One person was found dead inside a burning home in the Huntington Boulevard historic district in Fresno on Monday, the Fresno Fire Department said.
Around 9:30 a.m., crews arrived to the Tudor Revival-style home at 3946 E. Huntington Blvd. to find a large fire with smoke. When crews tried to enter the home through the back door, they found a body right on the other side, Fresno fire Battalion Chief Todd Tuggle said.
The fire department could not confirm the identity of the person who died, but the neighbor who called 911 said she thinks it is the woman who had been living there.
Mira Dhaliwal, the neighbor, described the woman as the owner. “We don’t know her name, but it was a lady,” Dhaliwal said. “We’ve seen her a couple times leaving the house, but we’ve never met her. We just know she lived there.”
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Dhaliwal said she only saw smoke coming from the back of the house when she called 911. “When the fire department came, that’s when we started seeing the flames,” she said. “We were just concerned that if anyone was in there, they had to get out.”
A few of the windows on the home had been boarded up, and there were bars on others. The fire department said electricity for the home had been turned off by PG&E in August 2015, then turned on earlier this year, but they still weren’t sure if the electricity was on or if anyone was supposed to be living there at the time of the fire.
When the fire department came, that’s when we started seeing the flames. We were just concerned that if anyone was in there, they had to get out.
Mira Dhaliwal, a neighbor
Tuggle said the two-alarm fire started in a back bedroom and extended to an attic that had been converted into a living space upstairs. The house is a total loss, according to Tuggle, although contents of the first floor were able to be saved.
The identity of the person who died has not been released by the coroner’s office. The cause of death as well as the cause of the fire are under investigation, Tuggle said. A total of 28 fire personnel were on scene.
The beige-colored home with green trim was built in 1931 by Dan and Mary Chamberlain. Dan Chamberlain was an engineer and worked on dams on the Mississippi River before coming to Fresno, according to the Guide of Historic Architecture in Fresno. Chamberlain was also a photographer and hosted parties to share travel photos in the basement of the home. Mary Chamberlain later married Fred Swartz after her husband died. Swartz worked on the design of the Fresno County Hall of Records and the Fresno Memorial Auditorium.
Huntington Boulevard was designated a historic district on May 21, 2015, according to Fresno’s Historic Preservation Commission. The commission said it is one of the most architecturally distinct neighborhoods in Fresno, representing major styles from 1914 to 1977.