Apartment fire sparks resident concerns over safety in central Fresno

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023 6:31PM
Fresno apartment fire sparks resident concerns over safety
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A woman was hospitalized with first-degree burns to her face after a fire broke out in her apartment in central Fresno on Tuesday night.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A woman was hospitalized with first-degree burns to her face after a fire broke out in her apartment in central Fresno on Tuesday night.

The fire started around 5:30 Tuesday evening at Summerset Village Apartments off Weldon and Angus Avenues.

Dozens of firefighters rushed to put out the fire, believed to have been sparked by a space heater.

The flames reached a common attic space between six apartments. Firefighters worked to prevent the fire from spreading any further.

"It really does cause an extra issue for firefighters to deal with because once the fire gets up into the attic, it can quickly spread throughout the building," said Jonathan Lopez from the Fresno Fire Department.

Just the sight of the fire was startling other residents.

"I feel scared," said resident May Lo.

Lo said she and her husband were out shopping and returned to seven fire engines surrounding the complex.

Their apartment is close to where the fire started.

"My purse, everything's in there so I don't know what's happened," said Lo.

Fire officials say the apartment where the fire started was destroyed, five others were damaged by water and other fire-prevention techniques.

While it's unclear why the space heater was being used, one Summerset resident told Action News he doesn't feel safe using his apartment's furnace.

"I'm scared of my heater, if I turn it on 'BOOM', I don't want to turn it on," said resident Steven Mong Vang.

The complex has a controversial history.

In the winter of 2015, the gas was cut off for several weeks until crews could replace the gas lines.

The next year, residents filed a lawsuit against the owner claiming the complex was unsafe, unsanitary, uninhabitable and in a serious state of disrepair.

Mong Vang says there are still maintenance issues with the apartments.

The manager of the property did not want to speak with Action News on camera.

Tuesday's fire, though, served as a reminder to everyone as temperatures drop.

"Plug space heaters directly into outlet. Don't use extension cords, don't use power strips. Also make sure you have at least three feet of clearance around a space heater," said Lopez.

Fifteen people were displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross is assisting them.

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