Fire burns apartment complex near Fresno State campus. Multiple people displaced

Fire at Maplewood Apartments

Scenes from a massive fire at Maplewood Apartments in Fresno, CA, Aug, 19, 2019.
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Scenes from a massive fire at Maplewood Apartments in Fresno, CA, Aug, 19, 2019.

Multiple people lost their homes Sunday night after a three-alarm fire consumed a large apartment complex near Fresno State.

The blaze started in a carport at the Maplewood apartment complex at Backer and Alamos avenues. When firefighters arrived around 7:25 p.m. several cars were engulfed and the blaze had spread to a series of two-story units, according to Deputy Fire Chief Richard Cabral.

“The fire was well advanced when they arrived,” Cabral said.

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, smoke from the fire could be seen from miles across town. Traffic was backed up along Shaw Avenue near the college campus.

Fresno police officers evacuated the building. No injuries were reported, Cabral said, but 14 units were destroyed.

One of those displaced by the blaze was Racine Babb. She wasn’t at home when the fire started and found out about it when her roommate called.

She moved into her apartment a month ago. Hours after finding out her apartment was gone, she was still in shock.

“It was like my first real apartment by myself,” she said. “I had all of my everything (there), all my belongings.”

Anthony Romero was on his way home from the lake when he saw smoke coming from the apartment complex across the street from where he lives. He was shocked to see his neighborhood in flames.

“It was like a movie. All the cars were on fire. They were charred. They were burned up. The carports were burned up. They had fire going on. They had ACs falling through the apartments. It was chaos,” he said.

Jake Lai and Chadoo Watudura live at the Maplewood Apartments, just two units away from where the fire hit.

The Fresno State students were inside their apartment when they heard what they thought were gunshots.

Several witnesses heard explosions, Cabral said, which were likely from car tires popping in the heat.

Eventually, the students could hear the fire crackling next door.

“People were shouting, banging on doors,” Lai said.

There was no word on estimated damages or exactly how many people were displaced.

Lai and Watudura said their apartment was fine, but they will be staying with friends while the fire department deals with the aftermath.

In a tweet, Fresno State said it was aware of the fire and urged any students affected to call Fresno State Police Dispatch for assistance at 559-278-8400.

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