Woman in critical condition after rescue from central Fresno house fire

The Fresno BeeDecember 19, 2013 

A central Fresno home was heavily damaged in a fire early Thursday, Dec. 19. A woman trapped in the house was rescued by firefighters but was hospitalized after suffering cardiac arrest.

JIM GUY — THE FRESNO BEE

A woman was in critical condition Thursday morning after being rescued from a burning home in central Fresno.

The blaze broke out sometime before 3 a.m. in the 3600 block of North Warren Avenue, near Dakota and West avenues. When firefighters arrived, they saw flames and smoke erupting from the home and quickly called for more units.

Fresno Fire Department spokesman Koby Johns said a man and two adult children got out of the burning home through windows, but the woman, 64, was trapped inside. Firefighters went inside and got the woman out through a door, but she had sustained smoke inhalation and went into cardiac arrest.

Johns said firefighters and emergency workers performed CPR and managed to get her heart going on the way to Community Regional Medical Center. However, the woman suffered complications from the smoke and was placed into a hyperbaric chamber for treatment. The chamber is used to to increase oxygen to the body to speed healing.

Getting a victim out of a burning home is one of the most dangerous tasks facing firefighters. Johns said firefighters always try to have at least 15 firefighters at the scene of a structure fire. The first unit to arrive goes into "fire attack" mode, meaning that if it is possible, they will enter the building with hoses and try to find the source of the blaze and put it out. When there is someone trapped inside, it requires two teams -- the first to fight the blaze and protect other firefighters searching for a victim.

Johns said it is a goal of fire departments to have 15 firefighters at the scene of a building fire in eight minutes, something staffing reductions can make difficult or impossible.

The cause of the fire was electrical and the amount of damage was estimated to be $80,000.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6339, jguy@fresnobee.com or @jimguy27 on Twitter.

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