Weekend fires strike Sanger, Dinuba, Orange Cove

Attic fire torches Peaches & Queens gym, Dinuba’s Strand Theater catches ablaze and thousands of chickens die in Orange Cove coup fire

Peaches & Queens Training Center, LLC on Academy Ave. in Sanger. (Kenny Goodman)
Peaches & Queens Training Center, LLC on Academy Ave. in Sanger. (Kenny Goodman)
Darren Fraser
Published February 13, 2024  • 
11:30 am

SANGER, ORANGE COVE – Fires in Sanger, Dinuba and Orange Cove kept local fire departments busy over the weekend.

At around 2 a.m. on Feb. 9, a fire started in the attic at the Peaches & Queens Training Center, LLC in at Academy and 7th Street in Sanger. Sanger Fire Department (SFD) Chief Greg Tarascou said the fire quickly moved to the roof.

“We’re still conducting an investigation,” Tarascou said. “Right now, it appears accidental.”

Reedley Fire Department (RFD) and Cal Fire Fresno (CFF) assisted with knocking down the fire.

Tarascou said the fire was contained to the attic and roof. SFD was able to extinguish it without too much difficulty. But because the fire was located in the attic, insulation, water and other materials rained down on the gym floor, resulting in extensive damage. The roof also sustained serious damage.

“A significant part of the roof will need to be replaced,” Tarascou said.

Vanessa Ramirez owns the gym. She said she had only been in that location since last November. She said she is concerned her insurance may not cover the damages.

“I only had general liability (insurance),” said Ramirez. Because of asbestos and other materials, she will not be able to enter the building for two weeks. Ramirez said most of her equipment is still in the gym.

The gym boasts about 160 regular members. Ramirez said one member offered the use of her backyard for classes. In a post on the Peaches & Queens Facebook page, Ramirez wrote that the gym will resume classes on Feb. 13.

“This has been a huge and unexpected loss for myself and my team,” Ramirez wrote. “It’s been so tough trying to figure out what the next move will be. We are not giving up, though.”

To help with costs, a GoFundMe account has been created.

STRAND THEATER

In Dinuba, the Strand Theater caught fire early in the morning on Feb. 11. The building, which was built in 1924 and is unoccupied, is located in the 200 block of L Street.

Dinuba Battalion Chief Joanne Bear said units arrived on scene at 1:20 a.m. She said fire was already visible from the roof of the building. Bear said firefighters from Dinuba City Fire Department, RFD, Orange Cove and Tulare County spent nearly three hours knocking down the fire. Fire personnel remained on the scene until 3 p.m., mopping up hot spots. 

Bear said one person was injured after he was rescued from a second story ledge. Bear could not say why the person was there since the building is vacant. The individual was transported to a local hospital.

She said the building is deemed unsafe. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

17,000 CHICKENS DESTROYED

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Friday, a fire broke out at a chicken coup located at 9760 S. Hill Avenue in Orange Cove.

According to the Orange Cove Fire District (OCFD), the fire destroyed 17,000 chickens that were housed in the coup. No trespassing signs posted at the entrance to the large compound warn visitors to stay out because the facility is a biosecure area. Signs specify that visitors must decontaminate upon entering and exiting the location.

Reedley Fire Department, Cal Fire Fresno and Tulare County assisted with extinguishing the fire, which was put out in under 30 minutes.

OCFD Battalion Chief Edward Hernandez said the property is owned by Pitman Farms. The fire was limited to one structure.

Hernandez said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire has bedeviled Orange Cove thus far in 2024. On Feb. 8, a fire destroyed an abandoned house located at 8th Street and Adams. CAL Fire crews extinguished that blaze.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 12, a tractor caught fire in a vineyard off Crawford Avenue near South Avenue. ALG Enterprises owns the vineyard.

According to a supervisor who arrived shortly after the fire started, a worker was driving a diesel tractor which had a duster attached – the duster is used to blow leaves from the berms in the vineyard. The tractor, which was about 200 feet inside the vineyard from the road, caught fire. 

The supervisor and worker tried to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers but to no avail. An Orange Cove Fire District engine arrived at the scene and firefighters were able to put out the fire in about 15 minutes.

Darren Fraser
Reporter