A massive fire that required resources from around the county destroyed a vacant, three-story house along the Tuolumne River south of Modesto on Friday evening.
The home at 1439 River Road was fully engulfed in flames when Ceres firefighters arrived on scene just after 5 p.m. Embers from the blaze were falling on at least 30 houses in the area, said Ceres Battalion Chief Rich Scola.
He immediately called for mutual aid.
It took about 45 minutes to get the blaze under control using multiple hoses, including one that sprayed from a ladder truck that extended 100 feet high, to douse the house and surrounding trees that had caught fire. The flames reached about five stories above the ladder.
Scola said the fire department had recently identified the structure as a fire hazard and was on scene less than two weeks ago to create a plan of attack in the event a fire broke out.
We are familiar with the residence and in the recent weeks we had preplanned the area because of the high fire hazard, Scola said. It was a very large, three-story, abandoned structure that had absolutely no interior components. It was a very old, very decrepit building that was basically ready to fall down on its own. We knew we were going to need TID (Turlock Irrigation District) to kill the power in the area and we knew we were going to need the water department to boost the water supply in the groundwater system.
He estimated the hoses were pumping out 3,000 gallons of water a minute.
It took about 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which completely collapsed the building, Scola said.
Firefighters kept the fire from spreading to other homes. The cause is under investigation.
Twenty-one engines, four battalion chiefs and a deputy fire chief responded to the River Road incident. The street was closed between Herndon Road and Richland Avenue for at least an hour.