70-year-old woman killed after fire tears through mobile home in Fresno

By the time firefighters arrived, the home was already overwhelmed by flames so they couldn't attempt a rescue.

ByABC30.Com Staff via KFSN logo
Thursday, August 27, 2020
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A tearful neighbor laid flowers outside Karen Wolf's driveway Wednesday morning.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A tearful neighbor laid flowers outside Karen Wolf's driveway Wednesday morning.

Just 16 hours earlier, helmet cam footage shows what firefighters pulled up to: flames shooting out of every window. A rescue attempt was not an option.

Once it was safe to enter, firefighters found the lifeless 70-year-old in the kitchen not far from the living room, where they believe the blaze began.

Neighbors know the victim's lack of mobility was a major factor in her not being able to get out in time.

"I could drop her off after taking her to the market and she would have to literally, inch by inch, hold on to the trailer and make a step," says neighbor Daniel Frea. "You know what I mean?"

Frea saw Wolf most often. He said she was good-hearted but quiet. He not only took her grocery shopping but also picked up her medicine and tended to her yard.

As much as she was able, Frea said she liked to be independent.

"She didn't want me to push the cart or nothing," Frea said. "I would drop her off, bring the cart to her and she would do the rest."

Nearby neighbors all said they did the same thing; grabbed the nearest water hose and turned it on full blast.

Firefighters arrived minutes later.

Investigators said there did not appear to be any working smoke detectors inside. Near the origin of the fire, crews noticed an outlet that was overloaded with multiple plugs.

It's unclear if that contributed to the fire since the official cause has not been determined.

Melvin Sweger has known the Wolf family for two decades. He wasn't home when the fire started but got a firsthand account from his next-door neighbor who went inside the burning home.

"He said he got into the living room and couldn't go no farther with the heat and smoke," he said.

Other neighbors who shattered the front windows to the mobile home described the heat as being 100 times more intense than opening an oven door. In fact, one neighbor charred his face from it.

The smell of smoke still lingers throughout the neighborhood. Many neighbors said the horror of watching this unfold kept them from sleeping Tuesday night, along with the fire odor that remains