‘That’s no vacant field.’ Commercial building destroyed in Fresno area prone to fires

A small commercial building was completely destroyed by fire Thursday morning in central Fresno, but no injuries were reported in the incident.

Fresno Fire Capt. Michael Zimmerman said crews arrived at the southeast corner of Hammond Avenue and Effie Street to find the building completely engulfed in flames “and it was already starting to collapse.” He said crews had to force their way through a gate to reach the building.

The fire was so advanced that Zimmerman said that firefighters could not determine what caused it.

Crews were finishing up their mop-up operations by 7:30 a.m. The building, possibly a modular building about 30 feet by 100 feet, was believed to be uninhabited, and has been the scene of recent fires.

Property records show that the site was a warehouse and formerly has been home to taxicab companies.

Zimmerman said fire crews responded twice overnight to fires believed to have been caused by homeless people in a nearby vacant field. “When this call came in, we thought it might be another one, but then we saw all the smoke and realized, ‘That’s no vacant field.’”

Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.