A family in southwest Fresno is cleaning up after a fire tore through their home early Sunday morning.
The Fresno Fire Department responded to the home on the 200 block of North Avenue just before 6 a.m.
The home, painted in white, was blackened by the smoke that flowed out of the windows and doors. Inside, kitchen chairs were scorched and an overturned couch sat on piles of debris.
The couch was serving as the sleeping place for the mother of the family, Cherel Washington, 58. She was woken up by her daughter.
“I jumped up,” Washington said. “I had a baby lying on me. I put him on the couch.”
Washington then started getting everyone out of the home as fast as possible. The fire department said there were 12 people in the home.
Daughter Tianiqui Washington, 26, was asleep in the room where the fire started. She was asleep with her baby, who is less than one week old, she said. Also in the room were two older boys.
She said the older boys had been at a track meet the day before and a birthday party later in the night. When they came home, they couldn’t shower because a water heater needed to be installed.
Tianiqui Washington said the room smelled, so she lit a scented candle before going to sleep.
“I had it by the window, so the air could blow and I guess the curtain caught on fire,” she said. “We were sleeping good.”
When she woke up around 5 a.m., smoke was everywhere. She couldn’t see. She grabbed her small baby and went to wake her mother up.
“I know it was smoky and those curtains were gone,” Tianiqui said.
Cherel Washington started getting everybody out, even making several trips in and out to make sure she had everyone. The last person left inside was another daughter. Cherel said she needed to enter through the back door because there was too much smoke at the front door.
“I’m glad they got out OK; she had smoke inhalation,” Tianiqui Washington said.
The fire department said two adults suffered smoke inhalation. Nobody went to the hospital.
The family says they are glad that it is the beginning of the month and will have time to find a place to stay. Meantime, Cherel says anyone who wants to help can call her at 760-351-6039 or at 460-220-5205.
“We have no help in Fresno,” Tianiqui Washington said. “We are just trying to do with what the Red Cross gave us and we are going to work from there.”