Fire destroyed an abandoned home Tuesday west of Highway 99, and at least some of the neighbors were not sorry to see what they said was a haven for squatters burn down.
The blaze erupted about noon on North Pleasant Avenue, just south of West Dennett Avenue, near the major intersection of Olive and Hughes avenues. Fresno Fire Department spokesman Hector Vazquez said firefighters have been at the home before. When fire trucks rolled in, flames were shooting from the roof of the decaying house. Firefighters needed to roll hoses about a 100 yards from the nearest hydrant. Because there was no one inside, firefighters took “defensive positions,” meaning they did not try to fight the crumpling building from the inside and instead protected nearby homes, including an occupied home just north of it. They also poured water on the burning ruin from a ladder truck.
Vasquez said the fire was “suspicious,” because the house was ostensibly abandoned, and there were no utilities hooked up that could potentially spark a blaze. He said it could have been started by someone inside either cooking or using a fire to keep warm.
A homeowner who lives nearby and declined to provide her name had another theory:
“They were in there doing drugs and making marijuana oil,” she said.
Making so-called “honey oil” from marijuana is a frequent cause of fires in Fresno, because butane gas used in the process is highly volatile.
“I’ve lived here16 years,” the neighbor said. “Let it burn.
Previously, she said, “There were a few of them that never bothered anybody. They would go in there and sleep, roll up their stuff early in the morning and leave … But then there got to be four people, five people, six people …
“No, they need to let it burn TO THE GROUND! cause they’re still gonna go in there … ”
Another resident who stopped his pickup to look at the fire agreed that illegal occupants were causing problems like the fire.
“It’s sad.” he said.