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Blaze Destroys Third Avenue Home
Fire 5
Firefighters get equipped with air tanks and masks to enter the burning home on South Third Avenue Friday afternoon - photo by RICHARD PALOMA & VIRGINIA STILL/THE LEADER


A multi-alarm house fire on Friday, Dec. 7 required more than 25 firefighters to combat the blaze and resulted in the near total destruction of the older two-story home.

The fire at the structure in the 200 block of South Third Avenue was called in about 1 p.m. with the first-arriving crews only having to respond a few feet away from the East G Street fire station, literally across the street from the burning home.

When crews arrived the house was filled with smoke and flames were shooting from the north side of the residence. The occupants, who were home at the time, were able to escape the without injury.

According to Deputy Chief Mike Wapnowski of the Oakdale Consolidated Fire Department the city fire department required assistance from Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District out of Riverbank, and the Escalon Fire Department for the incident.

The fire reportedly started in the downstairs portion of the home but quickly spread to other sections of the residence.

“The fire burned through to the second floor through the joists and made it a safety hazard for personnel inside,” said Wapnowski. “We had personnel back out when the ceiling started to collapse and we then went defensive.”

When fighting city fires, an incident commander must decide on the type of fire attack. The defensive mode is chosen to isolate or stabilize the blaze to ensure it does not get any worse or spread to nearby structures. This may mean sacrificing the building on fire to save close by structures that are not involved.

Fire crews were on scene until 6 p.m. due to “hot spots” and re-checked the house throughout the night and into Saturday morning to prevent flare ups.

The Modesto Regional Fire Authority conducted an investigation but was not able to determine the cause.

Wapnowski said the estimated damage to the structure and its contents was $250,000 to $300,000. He said the city building department was working with the owners on rebuilding.

The residents of the home were offered assistance through the American Red Cross but were able to make arrangements for shelter with other family members.