Fireworks, homeless people suspected as fire destroys southeast Fresno condo complex

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Charred wood and twisted metal are exposed in the calm of daylight.

Just hours earlier, chaos reigned as the flames climbed these homes.

"I just woke up to my girlfriend screaming 'there's a fire," said Chris Daniels.

The fire torched a southeast Fresno condo complex from the ground up, leaving nearly nothing untouched by the flames and the heat.

It spread so fast, residents tell me they couldn't even grab much of anything before running for their lives.

"Didn't have much time. Before I actually was thinking about what I could do to help put out the fire, the whole backyard was already on fire. I could feel the fire coming through the window," said Daniels.

Firefighters poured water from the ground and from ladders above the two-story complex, but smoke still poured out of the structure for hours as the fire burned into the attic and through the roof.

"Yeah, it's major damage to it. The entire roof is nearly burned off an extensive damage to the three units which are like townhouses. So, the upper floor in all three units is nearly destroyed," said Fresno Fire Department Chief Randy Reitz.

Investigators are trying to figure out how the fire started.

Residents say they heard some possible fireworks before the fire, and they also have an issue with homeless people squatting nearby, especially in the area where they first saw the flames.

Some of them came back in the sunlight to look for anything they might be able to salvage.

The Red Cross will help them all with emergency food and shelter, but for now, the walls of their world have crumbled.
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