Family displaced after fire destroys central Fresno home, investigators search for arsonist

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Flames devoured a central Fresno home near Cedar and Hedges as firefighters attempted to douse the fire.

When the fire broke out, the owner, Jesus Mendoza, and his girlfriend Laura Ramos were in bed.

It was just after 12:30 a.m. on Sunday when they started seeing the flames.

"I immediately said, 'Woman, get up. The house is on fire'," Mendoza told Action News in Spanish. "Then I quickly ran outside to warn my sister-in-law, who lives in the backside of the house."

A total of four people were inside the home, including a renter.

Jesus ran back to inside to make sure his girlfriend was out, as the roof started caving in.

"Something fell on my shoulder and the mattress was on fire, and I was looking for her, but she was not there," Mendoza said.

Laura had to jump out of a window to safety. Still shaken up, she talked about the traumatizing escape.

"The flames were coming towards my room, and I ran to the window, knocked out the air conditioner and jumped out," she said.

Everyone got out safely, but everything inside was destroyed.

Jesus tried salvaging what he could in a small box.

"The only thing that I need right now is a place to stay for me and my family, because right now we don't have a home, clothes, or even food," he said.

With the family in need, a neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous, donated bags of clothes and blankets to them.

As the family works toward recovery, fire detectives are investigating a person of interest. They believe the fire may have been started by a tenant.

"We did learn that there is a fifth renter that left the scene at the time of our arrival," said Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo. "We are investigating that particular behavior from that renter as we speak."

The Red Cross says it will be providing the family with some assistance as they go through this difficult time. A GoFundMe account has been set up.
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