Fresno firefighters help residents escape from apartment fire

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Intense video shows the chaotic moments when Fresno Firefighters responded to an apartment complex fire. (WLS)

Intense video shows the chaotic moments when Fresno firefighters responded to a Central Fresno apartment complex fire Saturday morning.

A smoke alarm across the hall woke resident Patrick Patterson up just before 5 a.m. When he opened his door, he saw a fire had taken over the back stairwell.
The smoke was too thick to walk through, so he only had one option left-- jump out his window. "I knew I had to do it," Patterson said.

After he landed in a bush, Patterson called 9-1-1 and banged on his neighbors' windows to get them out. So did Fresno Firefighters, who ultimately helped get seven people out of the complex. Some of it was caught on a GoPro camera strapped to one firefighter's helmet, including the moment when a mother handed firefighters her baby through this second story window. Crews then helped her and her husband down the ladder.

A couple of residents inhaled too much smoke, but everyone made it out OK. "Nights like last night between our fires and those rescues make all the training that we've had in the past definitely worth it," said Fresno Fire Captain Anthony Vasconcellos.

Vasconcellos and his team were able to respond quickly because they were just a few blocks away when they got the call. They had been called off another apartment fire in the Tower District. "I think if they weren't here as fast as they were, somebody might have been in trouble," Patterson said.

Firefighters are still trying to figure out the cause of this fire, and aren't ruling out arson.

The fire was limited to the back stairway.

The landlord says he's just thankful his building held up and firefighters got here quickly. He'll have to gut out the old stairwell and take care of the smoke damage.
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newsapartment firefirefirefightersfire rescuefresnou.s. & worldCalifornia
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