Monday, March 20, 2017

A special needs resident started the Fresno fire with a butane tool at the Cardinal Creek Apartments in Fresno, CA

Sunday, March 19, 2017 06:10PM
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An early morning fire in northeast Fresno left a dozen people without a home.

The fire happened Sunday at the Cardinal Creek Apartments on Gettysburg and Chestnut Avenues.

Two neighbors said they banged on windows and doors to get those sleeping inside the fourplex out alive. The flames were so intense that nearly two dozen firefighters were on scene battling the blaze.

Melanie Culmanero lives in a building nearby.

"I heard some yelling and screaming at three o'clock this morning, 'everybody get out of the apartment, call 911,'" she said.

Culmanero says the flames were shooting several feet into the air, forcing one of the residents out with very little on.

"I came and got a blanket and covered one of the ladies at the apartment here," Culmanero said.

Investigators say they think a special needs resident may have accidentally started the fire with a tool that has some sort of butane or welding piece of equipment on it.

He was injured and paramedics took him to the hospital. Culmanero says her heart goes out to her neighbors who are now left without a home.

"You always feel for the families that are affected when they have fires and how everything is gone in their house and apartment," she said.

Only one unit suffered extensive damage, and the fire department estimates it will cost around $60,000.

The Red Cross provided assistance to an elderly couple and their caretaker. Four people lived in the unit and one of them suffered first and second-degree burns.

They are expected to recover.

The person who investigators believe started it is not facing any charges at this time.