One of those blazes destroyed two homes on Jake Creek Drive in west Patterson, displacing two families.
Firefighters received a call at 1:36 p.m. about the blaze on Jake Creek in the Walker Ranch development. The cause of the residential fire was still undetermined as of 5 p.m.
Witnesses said a family with a baby escaped from one of the homes. The other house was empty, though the family dog was in the area and was able to free itself from the fire, according to onlookers. A woman who lived in one of the homes did not wish to comment on the matter.
Patterson Fire Chief Steve Hall speculated that the fire began between the two houses and was carried upward by wind gusts.
It caused extensive damage to both two-story homes and even caused one firefighter to fall through the second-story floor to the first, Hall said.
“We were lucky it was a minor injury,” he said. “He’s OK.”
Once most of the smoke had dissipated by 3:38 p.m., Hall sent more units from the residential location back to a fire that was under way in and around Laird Park about a mile east of Grayson.
Several neighbors — including Alex Halluin who lives off Henley Parkway — said they could see the smoke billowing from the rooftops nearby, and were concerned for friends, neighbors and local firefighters.
Resident and former Councilwoman Annette Smith also saw the smoke, but did not realize until she drew close that the fire was in a residential zone. She thought it was smoke carrying over from one of several grass fires in the area.
“We’ve had some wicked wind lately,” Smith said, while watching firefighters clamber out the two-story windows on Jake Creek Drive. “There is no way we could’ve fought this thing effectively without our firemen. I am proud of the job they’ve done.”
Onlookers Gina Torres, 15, and Danica Cook, 14 held a personal attachment to one of the charred homes.
“This is my best friend’s house,” Torres said, looking at the broken shambles with disbelief. “I’ve been coming here since I was in the second grade. I was raised in this house.”
Both girls waited until the homeowners returned to be sure the family was safe. Everyone was greeted with tearful hugs.
“I am just happy that they are not physically hurt,” Cook added.
Grass fires throughout the West Side also kept firefighters on their toes on Tuesday.
The largest of those blazes started in Laird Park at about 1 p.m.
It consumed about 10 acres, including a small portion of West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District’s coverage area after flames jumped across the San Joaquin River. Firefighters cleared the scene early Tuesday evening.
Another blaze consumed about two acres west of Interstate 5 at about 12:30 p.m. just two and a half miles north of the Westley exit.
The fire was handled quickly, and controlled in less than half an hour.
A third fire started just before 6 p.m., consuming oleanders and brush on Kilburn Road in Crows Landing before it was eventually extinguished by firefighters.
Firefighters also received a report of a tree on fire at about 8:40 p.m. in a field at Sperry and South Del Puerto avenues.
That fire turned out to be largely inconsequential, however.
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.