Families recovering after losing homes in blaze

FRESNO, Calif.

It happened Sunday evening at the La Hacienda apartments at Lane and Peach.

The Red Cross moved four displaced families to a hotel. The organization provided them rooms, along with vouchers for food and clothing. They hope to get into permanent housing soon, and begin recovering from a Christmas they won't forget.

The fire was apparently ignited by a child playing with matches or a lighter. The flames spread quickly from the downstairs apartment.

Robert Chavez was asleep in the apartment upstairs when the fire started.

"The smoke woke me up I didn't know what to do. I opened the door to the room, I see the flames. I ripped the curtain off because the curtain was already on fire," Chavez said.

Chavez is thankful he and his two daughters escaped unhurt, but says the family is in shock, trying to figure out what's next.

"Everybody's depressed and crying she's picking up her stuff off the floor, everything is wet, it all stinks and smells, you know, smoke," he said.

Theresa Avalos and her mother and four children haven't been back to the apartment to see how much they've lost.

"Right now we're just waiting to see to get some help, get us into a new place and just take it from there," Avalos said.

They've been told the apartment management is planning to move the families into other apartments as soon as possible. Despite the losses, everyone is grateful that nobody was hurt.

"It's okay, because they saved the lives of the kids and my daughter and I. Praise the Lord," Avalos said.

The families are expected to be at the hotel for another couple of days.

The Red Cross is also providing vouchers for food and clothing to help the families.

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