Most Viewed Stories
Fire displaces Porterville couple
Large home severely damaged
A Porterville couple was displaced from their home Thursday morning after a fire heavily damaged their large two-story house in the 400 block of West Belleview Avenue.
The couple, Francisco and Ofria Luna, were away from the home when the fire broke out just after 9 a.m.
Interim Fire Chief Glenn Irish said a general alarm was called at about 9:10 a.m., summoning all on-duty resources, reserve fire fighters and off-duty personnel to the scene.
The city also requested mutual aid from the Tulare County Fire Department and CalFire due to the size of the fire.
When the first fire engine arrived on scene, firefighters found the 3,500- to 4,000-square-foot structure engulfed in flames. The blaze threatened neighboring homes and other buildings in the home’s backyard.
Irish said the fire extended into the attic of the home, exposing homes on the east and west sides as the fire vented through the attic.
Neighbors watched as billowing clouds of smoke escaped through the roof of the home and flames threatened to reignite.
Alicia Barrios, who lives across the street from the Lunas, said she was washing dishes when she realized what was going on.
“I thought it was the steam from my dishes fogging up my windows. I kept looking out and then, all of a sudden, I said, ‘Oh, that looks like a storm coming’ so I went outside and saw the entire house in flames,” she said.
Barrios said that she saw three men trying to break down the door of the house, in an attempt to provide aid, but nobody responded.
Firefighters faced menacing conditions, including heat, smoke, lack of visibility and fatigue, Irish said.
“As the fire progresses, then we have areas of the floor that have burned away and lost their integrity so there’s holes in the floor on the second floor,” he said, adding that the ceiling had also collapsed on the second floor, causing debris to fall.
Additionally, “we have the integrity of the roof that’s been compromised from the attic fire. So there’s certainly a risk of additional roof collapse at this time,” he said.
The Lunas had lived in the house for nearly 17 years. Ofria Luna said the home was insured and that family had offered assistance.
Though the homeowners were away when the fire started, their toy poodle was said to still be in the home. Irish did not say whether the puppy was inside the home at the time of the fire.
Investigators have to yet to determine a cause.
About 35 fire personnel responded to the incident, dubbed the Belleview Fire. The fire, which caused street closures and downed power lines, was contained at approximately 10:35 a.m. Fire fighters remained on scene to mop up remaining hot spots.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.