Cool weather is going to keep firefighters busy, here's why

Alyssa Flores Image
Friday, October 28, 2022
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Even as the temperatures drop in Central California, fire crews are staying busy. Cold overnight weather can lead to more warming fires.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This garage is a total loss.

Flames destroyed the boarded-up structure in central Fresno this week.

Firefighters say it was starting to spread to a vacant home too-before crews got it contained.

The cause? Investigators believed it was a warming fire started by someone experiencing homelessness.

"Something that was unintentional," Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Bob Camp says. "They were just trying to stay warm, cook food, or something like that end up spreading to a nearby house or a fense line or something like that which ends up turning into a larger fire"

The number of calls that came in as warming fires in January and February of 2022 was more than double the number during that same time in 2021.

With a warmer-than-average October on the books this year, it's too soon to tell what this fall and winter have in store.

Camp anticipates an uptick with cold weather in the forecast, which would add to the strain on first responders.

"They are pulling resources from the fire station to go out and investigate," Camp says. "We are removing that vehicle from service that could be responding to a medical emergency or other fire events to investigate something that's sort of a nuisance call."

The Poverello House in downtown Fresno sees the warming fires surrounding their homeless shelter too.

"It is a fire hazard especially if it's around our area and we try to encourage them to put them out or we put them out ourselves," Chief Programs Officer Sara Mirhadi says.

Poverello workers instead offer others ways to keep warm, including extra blankets and clothes.

And while they can't expand their capacity during the coldest months of the year, they do offer a ride out of the cold and into other shelters.

The city's warming centers are open through the night when the temperature dips below 35 degrees.