Investigators say cause of house fires 'undetermined'
May 24, 2013 | 2505 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A fire that started in Laird Park on Tuesday afternoon, May 21, consumed about 10 acres before it was extinguished by firefighters at 5:30 p.m.--Photo by Nick Rappley/Patterson Irrigator
A fire that started in Laird Park on Tuesday afternoon, May 21, consumed about 10 acres before it was extinguished by firefighters at 5:30 p.m.--Photo by Nick Rappley/Patterson Irrigator
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Two west Patterson families have not been able to return to their homes after an “undetermined” fire source on Tuesday, May 21 ignited at 1:36 p.m. in a shed in the backyard of a home at 1422 Jake Creek Drive.

Patterson Fire Chief Steve Hall speculated that the fire could have been caused by any number of factors, including oily rags or a spontaneous combustion.

“We’ve ruled out arson, and we know that there were no electrical services going on in the shed,” Hall said. “We know there wasn’t lightning, so it could have been anything.”

The wind report also detected that gusts reached up to 16 miles an hour, pushing the fire from one home to the house just east of it, Hall said.

Patterson Fire Department supplied two engines and a truck, and received help from Cal Fire, Turlock Fire Department, Modesto Fire Department and the Mountain View Fire Protection District. The effort involved 41 personnel and nine engines, and was quickly extinguished by 3:38 p.m.

The American Red Cross showed up on the scene shortly after receiving a call, and offered assistance to both families.

One family of three was offered a client card with funds, a week’s worth of food and one outfit of clothing for each person, said Debbie Calcote, an emergency service member of the Red Cross. The family opted to stay at the Villa Del Lago Plus Best Western hotel on Rogers Road for immediate relief.

The second family, which had 10 members, was also offered services but graciously declined help from the Red Cross, Calcote said. Both homes were insured, she said.

Several other grass fires also kept local firefighters busy on Tuesday. The largest started in Laird Park east of Grayson at about 1 p.m., consuming 10 acres, including a small portion of West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District’s domain once flames crossed the San Joaquin River. Westport Fire Protection District received assistance from Patterson Fire Department, which supplied two engines and a water tender on top of Westport’s eight fire engines and four water tenders, Hall said. The fire was extinguished at 5:30 p.m.

Another third blaze consumed about two acres of land off of Interstate 5 at about 12:30 p.m. before being tamed by local engines. The vegetation fire was investigated by Cal Fire, but was quickly contained by 1:15 p.m. The cause of both the Laird Park fire and the I-5 blaze have yet to be determined.

A fourth fire began just before 6 p.m. on Kilburn Road in Crows Landing. High gusts had snapped a nearby power line and ignited oleanders and brush, Hall said. One engine and four personnel were called to investigate. The fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes.

• Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com.

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