Patterson Division Chief Jeff Gregory said Tuesday, June 4 that the fire spread quickly through the barn—which contained orchard ladders for harvesting— causing a little suspicion. Particularly, it was the speed in which it spread that was cause for concern, he said.
The barn was near a property the city used to shoot off the Apricot Fiesta fireworks display, but firefighters were posted all around nearby properties during the fireworks display to make sure no fires started from falling remains of the fireworks, Gregory said. No fires or sparks were spotted, he said. The fireworks show occurred about an hour and a half before firefighters were called out to the barn fire.
Modesto Regional Fire Investigator Alfonso Zamora said there was not enough evidence left from the fire to truly determine what caused the barn to burn.
“Usually, we check walls and floors to determine how a fire traveled and where it started,” he said. “Unfortunately, (the barn) was completely gone when I got there. There wasn’t very much for me to go on. There is nothing conclusive.”
Fred Woods, resident and caretaker of the property owned by Mike Mahaffey of Westley, said he came outside when he heard fire trucks near his house on the property. He described the building and the ladders inside as old.
Fifteen firefighters protected the other buildings on the property, including the house where Woods resides. The firefighters kept the fire from spreading for about an hour, Gregory said. The barn is considered a total loss.
“All they could do was keep the fire from spreading to the other structures,” Zamora said. “We have no witnesses, no suspects and all of the evidence was consumed.”
Calls to Mahaffey regarding the fire were not returned this week.
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