At least 1 dead in west central Fresno house fire, officials say

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Firefighters say the home on North Vista off of West McKinley Avenue was like a tinder box, and by the time they arrived, flames were shooting into the sky.

A smoke alarm woke up Judy Fitzgerald around 5:30 Wednesday morning. Firefighters say she got up to find a space heater on fire in the living room.

"They called the fire department, she tried to throw some water on it, and she said it basically chased her out of the front of the house," says Andy Isolano with the North Central Fire District.

The couples' daughter, who lives directly behind their home, broke the window to her parents' bedroom but was unable to get inside.

Fire crews tried to go into the home to rescue the family, but the heat and flames were too intense.

Wesley Fitzgerald died. His wife made it out, along with their grandson. Firefighters say several factors may have limited Wesley's ability to get out in time.

"It was reported that he was hard of hearing and he walked with a walker, so that would've definitely delayed him from trying to get out," Isolano said. "He slept with a CPAP machine, so all of that would've contributed to him not hearing much."

Wesley's loved ones believe he got up out of bed but was immediately disoriented by the smoke before the flames swallowed the one-bedroom home.

Wesley had just celebrated his 88th birthday on January 30. He still enjoyed riding his Harley and loved John Wayne movies.

Firefighters say two family dogs were also in the home when the fire broke out. They do not believe they made it out alive.
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