A smoking rag may have caused a roof fire at a housing complex on Austin Way in central Fresno on Thursday evening.
The fire started on the roof and settled in the attic the housing units share, said Fresno Fire Department Battalion Chief Addison Clark. Attic fires like Thursday’s take longer to be noticed because smoke does not reach indoors detectors, he said.
Firefighters found a rag on the roof of the housing complex, but Clark said he will not rule out other fire sources like old electrical wiring. No eyewitnesses came forward saying they saw someone throw the rag on the roof, he said.
Clark estimated about $4,000 in damage to the roof and the inside ceiling and drywall.
Earlier the same day, a resident of the unit alerted the sheriff to a homeless encampment on the other side of the wall, said Rommell Thompson, the building’s manager.
A noisy homeless encampment borders the housing unit, said Lulu Montijo, a three-year resident.
At 6:43 p.m. Djuana Stevens, a two-year resident at the complex, heard a homeless man banging on her door telling her the roof was on fire and that she needed to leave. She immediately evacuated.
Stevens said she was thankful the homeless man alerted her to the fire.