Apartment fire that left a dozen homeless in Fresno highlights the need for insurance

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At least three Fresno families are beginning the New Year without a home after a fire tore through an apartment complex near Clinton and Bond Avenues Thursday.

Many of the renters did not have insurance, 24 hours after flames devoured their home.

"I fell in love with the apartment," resident Deborah Lawson said. "Now I don't want to leave it and I have to."

Lawson is still in shock, knowing all she has to fall back on are the charred remains lying in her yard.

"Lose almost everything you have and have to start all over again," she said. "I haven't had to start all over again in a long time."

None of the families in the complex say they had renters insurance. Like the Lawson's, the other tenants lost mostly everything. On the eve of a new year, Deborah is rethinking decisions she's made in the past year.

"My kids have never started no fires," she said. "We're not fire starters, so I mean I never thought about it before."

The Red Cross provided some relief Thursday, a couple hundred dollars for food, clothing and shelter. The Lawson family have a temporary place to stay, but the aid only lasts for a few days.

"He was going to go get his clothes and go out tomorrow to look for work," Jessica Piffero with the Red Cross said. "But then when he went in to look for his clothes, they are wasted."

Just this month, the Red Cross has helped 48 displaced families. Volunteers say they see more home fires during the holidays than any other period and if families can spare the money they should buy protection.

"Often times, people are using safe heaters, they are plugging in too many Christmas decorations or lighting candles," Piffero said. "And all those things are fire safety hazards."

Firefighters still haven't figured out what caused these apartments to burn. Deborah says it's tough and something that's out of her control.

"I'd tell them to get renters insurance right off the bat unless they want to lose everything," she said.

It's now cost her and her family everything they've owned.
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