Five people dead in central Fresno house fire

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The windows of the abandoned home were boarded up, making a rescue difficult for firefighters. (KFSN)

Five people died Sunday morning when a fire broke out in a central Fresno home.

A neighbor's video captured the moments when Fresno firefighters began to find people inside and attempted a rescue. "We're going to transition into search-and-rescue mode for the people inside," a firefighter said on his radio. "Also confirming we have three patients at this time, copy, six bodies."

CPR was administered to some of the victims before multiple ambulances arrived, one for each victim. Four people died on scene.

"Do we have a body that can go to CRMC and keep me updated on these patients?" dispatchers radioed.

Two victims were rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, but 37-year-old Anthony Zavala later died from his injuries. The second transported victim remains in critical condition.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office identified the four victims that died on scene as 28-year-old Monique Amaral, 36-year-old Irene Hinojos, 34-year-old Patricia Zambrano, and 56-year-old William Morales.

Enrique Lara lives next door, and said he woke up to a strange sound around 7 a.m. "All you could hear was the people inside pounding on the windows," Lara said. "People trying to get out."

According to neighbors, the house was abandoned 20 years ago and had been boarded up several times. But Lara said vagrants would enter the residence and stay.

The boarded up windows posed a challenge to firefighters who used chainsaws to cut through them. Crews dealt with heavy fire and smoke in the back of the single-story house. "Again this home was vacant," Pete Martinez with the Fresno Fire Department said. "It was boarded up. This is obviously a problem we've had within the city of Fresno and one that the city is working towards trying to remedy."

Investigators are working to determine how the fire started.
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