Arsonist Targets Southwest Fresno Homeless Camp - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Arsonist Targets Southwest Fresno Homeless Camp

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FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -

An arsonist made life more difficult for six homeless families living in an encampment in southwest Fresno.  Firefighters say as many as six units were burned to the ground.

The homeless shanty's are located on the Golden State access road near Ventura just south of Chinatown.  Fresno Police say it was torched by a fire bomb but Fresno Firefighters wouldn't confirm the report until it investigates.

Fire captain Lawrence French says high voltage lines overhead kept firefighters at bay.  "That posed an element of danger for our folks we weren't willing to assume.   So we did take a defensive posture.   We backed up to a safe distance and we controlled the fire at that location."

Some people lost everything in the fire.  Jim Sweeten who lived at the end of the block had to give up his dog to the SPCA.  It was burned in the fire and he couldn't afford to pay for treatment.  "They're saying I gotta give her up right now.  This is the only one of two dogs that survived other than my large ones. Bye bye baby.   Bye bye baby."

Jim Sweeten said "Dip Stick" was part of their family for six years.

Firefighters aren't sure how many makeshift units were destroyed because they are built so close together.  The encampment a few blocks south of Chinatown is scheduled to be torn down by the city.  Jim Sweeten had this reaction.  "It makes being evicted from here a lot easier because now we don't have anything.   Sorry what happened.   We all are."

The Sweeten's, are one of as many as six families leaving with just the clothes on their backs.

Police took one person into custody for questioning.  They are seeking a second person believed to be involved in the fire.

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