Fire destroys units in Fresno apartment

Fire caused by a child playing with a cigarette lighter displaced six families Friday morning at an apartment in central Fresno, officials said.

The blaze, which was reported at 9:44 a.m., started at a crowded complex near Weldon and Angus avenues.

Fresno Fire Department spokeswoman Shandra Rodems said the two-alarm fire sent 31 firefighters rushing to the complex where they found the building engulfed.

Heavy black smoke was visible for miles.

The fire damaged four units in the building, and firefighters were forced to damage two others while putting out the fire.

No one was hurt but 17 adults and 11 children were displaced. The Red Cross was assisting the families to find temporary residences. Firefighters also rescued a dog from one of the units.

The fire caused an estimated $180,000 damage to the building and $80,000 damage to contents, Rodems said.

She said the cigarette lighter ignited a mattress. Initially, apartment manager Jerry Vang said he believed that a pot cooking on a stove got out of control. He said he planned to pass out fliers to residents of other buildings warning them to be careful.

Rodems said the unit did not have a working smoke detector.