Fire breaks out at vacant building in downtown Fresno

Fresno, Calif. (KFSN) — An all-out attack was the only way to gain control of an inferno in Downtown Fresno.

The billows of black smoke could be seen for miles from the building fire at Fresno and E Street.

It sits almost directly across from Fire Station 3 but the close location wasn’t the only familiar factor for firefighters.

“This was a county building that was not in use at the time,” says Fresno County Fire Battalion Chief Dan O’Meara. “It was also a homeless problem that our department had to deal with on numerous occasions.”

Although temperatures reached triple digits, officials don’t believe heat played a role in sparking the fire.

“Considering that there was no gas, no power to the building and also it was not being used, it’s a strong indication that we are looking at a homeless encampment of some kind that may have started the fire,” O’Meara said.

A quick search was conducted. The building was found to be empty but it’s been the site of numerous break-ins.

“The county did have it fenced off and it was also bordered up, but the homeless have peeled off the fence a couple of times and have gotten into the building,” O’Meara said.

Since fires typically increase over the summer months, officials recommend clearing the area around your own home or business if it’s close to a vacant building.

“Make sure there’s no rubbish or stuff on the exterior of your building that really needs to be cleaned, kept away,” O’Meara said. “Make sure your trash is secure and locked up so the homeless don’t have an opportunity to get in there.”

E Street was closed for about two hours but has since reopened. Officials will continue their investigation to determine if the fire was indeed started by a homeless encampment.

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