Fires along Modesto's Dry Creek have authorities concerned

pguerra@modbee.comMay 17, 2013 

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    alternate text Patty Guerra
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— Local firefighters have responded to a series of blazes in the past few days, including a rash of incidents along Dry Creek that have them asking the public for help.

Two house fires Thursday displaced three people, Modesto Regional Fire Battalion Chief Alan Ernst said. Both fires were ruled to be accidental and no injuries were reported.

The first call came in on Olivero Court at 1:45 p.m., Ernst said. The fire broke out in a back room and spread to an attic.

"The fire got up there and kind of just creeped around in the insulation," he said. We had to secure all the belongings and pull the ceiling down."

Though the fire was controlled in 20 minutes, crews were on scene for about 2½ hours.

Damage was estimated at $50,000.

The second house fire occurred just before 7 p.m. on David Court. That one started in a garage, and firefighters kept it there.

"They made a great stop," Ernst said.

The resident who reported the fire also made a smart move by closing the door from the garage to the house. Ernst said most interior doors are fire rated, which is why officials advise people to sleep with the doors shut.

Damages in the David Court fire were estimated at $75,000. Gusty wind hampered efforts at both blazes, Ernst said.

A little bit north of Modesto, Stanislaus Consolidated firefighters handled a vegetation fire on Friday. That blaze engulfed vegetation and some cars in a field near Riverbank; Modesto Fire sent two engines and a battalion chief to help.

As if they weren't busy enough, firefighters have responded to five fires in the past four days along Dry Creek in Modesto, Ernst said. Those appear to be intentionally set.

The situation has firefighters concerned enough to start patrolling the area, handing out fliers to people along the bike trail asking them to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Officials ask anyone who sees anything suspicious in the Dry Creek area to call the Fire Prevention Bureau at (209) 491-5722.

Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter @pattyguerra.

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