As Martin Campos walked around his southwest Fresno neighborhood with his large family Wednesday morning, he received a phone call. A neighbor told him the family’s home was burning.
He and his family members rushed around the corner and saw their one-story home at 136 W. Strother Ave. in flames. Campos immediately ran into the inferno. His sister-in-law was the only one of the 10-member family to stay home from the walk. He found her asleep in her bedroom.
“There was fire and smoke – it was so hard to see,” Campos said, coughing into his sleeve several times as he recounted what he encountered. “I couldn’t wake her up, so I lifted her and pushed her out of the bedroom window.”
The drop from the window to the ground woke the woman. Campos followed her out.
With everyone safe, the Campos family – with ages ranging from 17 months to 60 years – watched their three-bedroom home burn. Destiny Campos held her 17-month-old daughter, Yamilet, in one arm while embracing her mother, Maria, in the other. Tears rolled down her face as she watched the fire from across the street.
Firefighters arrived a few minutes later.
I couldn’t wake her up, so I lifted her and pushed her out of the bedroom window.
Martin Campos, recounting how he rescued his sister-in-law
Fresno Fire Department spokesman Pete Martinez said once firefighters determined no one was inside, they took a defensive approach to keep the blaze from spreading to other homes.
The home was destroyed, Martinez said. Its value was estimated at $50,000.
Barry Falke, executive director of American Red Cross Central Valley, said volunteers were sent to assist the family.
The fire was caused by improper wiring and overloaded electrical circuits, Martinez said.
One resident shared information that may shed some light on what happened.
Adela Perez said her family had been without water or power for the last two months. She said the water pipes in and out of the home were badly rusted, and that wiring to the home’s lights was damaged. Several power outlets were falling out of the wall, exposing more wires, she said.
5number of minutes it took Fresno firefighters to arrive after neighbors’ 911 calls, Destiny Campos said
Perez said she notified the home’s owner and manager, Alberto Ramirez, but she said Ramirez refused to visit the home or send someone to fix it. Recently, the family attempted to “fix the problems ourselves.” She didn’t elaborate, but she said they were able to get the lights working again.
She called Ramirez on Wednesday to tell him about the fire.
“He said it was not his problem and that he would not leave work.”
When Martin Campos told his mother, Maria, what the owner had said, she collapsed on the sidewalk. Her family began to yell for paramedics to help her. Martinez, preparing to speak to a half-dozen reporters, rushed to help her. Paramedics gave her oxygen and took her to their ambulance on a stretcher.
Martinez said the woman suffered from asthma and other ailments but that she would be fine.
Ramirez told The Bee in a telephone interview that the family had failed to pay its bills, resulting in the water and power being shut off.
He repeated that the fire was “not my problem right now” because he couldn’t get a ride to the house from his job. He said he had had car trouble recently and had to get a ride to his job as a field worker.
He said he would come to the house as soon as he could.