Fresno boy playing with a lighter starts an apartment fire

FRESNO, Calif.

The apartment fire started just after 4:30 p.m. along the 200 block of West Dakota Avenue in Central Fresno. The fire destroyed four units of the same apartment building.

"One of the neighbors came banging on my door," Jesse Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was a tenant in one of the apartments and says he was lucky to make it out alive.

"I grabbed my dog and one of my cats and just got out of there," said Gonzalez. "By the time I got out everything was smoking."

Neighbors caught cell phone video of fire and smoke shooting out of the apartments. Many of the people living in nearby apartments were asked to leave, just in case the fire spread towards their units.

"My first reaction was 'wow'," Helen Ramirez said.

She lived in the building next to the units that burned down.

"I thought it was going to catch the next apartment on fire, and then ours and we're going to lose it because it's going fast," said Ramirez.

Fire fighters say one person was treated on scene for smoke inhalation. They were also able to successfully resuscitate two cats that were found inside the apartments.

It took 30 fire fighters 20 minutes to completely put out the flames.

"The entire attic space of all four units was damaged and the other two units, we had to drop the ceiling to complete the extinguishment," Battalion Chief Chuck Tobias said.

The fire damage is estimated at $250,000. The Red Cross is assisting the families affected.

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