Smoke Inhalation kills woman in Southwest Fresno house fire

FRESNO, Calif.

The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, at a house on Myers Avenue near Thorne.

Firefighters found the woman's body when they searched the home after the fire was put out. The Fresno County Coroner's Office isn't releasing her name until her family is notified, but investigators said she was 32 years old.

"I'm sorry for the young lady that didn't make it out. I don't know if I know her. I'm waiting to hear. It's really, really sad. I don't like this," said neighbor Cathy Lowe.

Lowe wants to know what caused the deadly fire to break out next door to her home.

"It's sad. It's really, really sad," she said.

Lowe has lived in the neighborhood on and off for the past few decades. She said she was inside Sunday night, when she heard what sounded like a loud explosion.

"I heard a boom," said Lowe.

Within minutes, she said heavy fire and smoke was pouring out of every window and door of the house.

"I would only imagine gas would make it blow like that," she added

The only problem is, neighbors said the home didn't have any gas or electricity. They believed several homeless people were living inside.

"I saw some people come out of there running, but I don't know who they was," said a neighbor who identified herself as Vickie.

Vickie said she called 911 as soon as she saw the flames.

"I said (to the dispatcher) you got to come. Hurry up! It's a fire and there's somebody up in there. The house was burning," she said.

When firefighters arrived, spokesperson Koby Johns said the home was heavily involved with fire.

"Our crews, the first thing they had to do is fight the fire from the outside," said Johns. "I mean fire was just rolling out underneath the carport they were working from, from every window and there was fire from floor to ceiling."

Johns said it took the work of 15 firefighters to knock back the flames. Once it was out, crews searched the home and found the body of a 32-year-old woman behind a couch in the living room. An autopsy later revealed she died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters told Action News, there were no working smoke detectors inside the home. Johns is now urging families to take advantage of a free program made available by a recent grant.

"About two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes without any fire detectors. It's just really important that people get working smoke alarms in their house," he said.

"Every fire engine in town has some on them. Every fire station has a stockpile and so if you don't have one or can't afford one. We have 24 fire stations in Fresno and Kerman and some of our contract areas, go to one of the Fresno fire stations and ask them for a smoke alarm or a battery and we'll hook you up," he added.

Johns said this is the second fatal fire this year in Fresno. Investigators estimate the damage at around $75,000.

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