Fire destroyed a longtime, highly visible minimart at Geer Road and East Whitmore Avenue just east of Hughson late Thursday.
Crews from Hughson, Stanislaus Consolidated, Ceres, Keyes, Mountain View, Turlock Rural and Denair battled the blaze at Mo’s Oasis Market & Deli, said Ceres Fire Battalion Chief Rich Scola. The dispatch call went out just before 11 p.m.
“When crews arrived, there was very heavy fire involvement on the interior of the facility, with flames through the roof, which compromised the roof structure,” so crews attacked the fire from outside the store only, he said.
“The roof already was caving in,” Hughson Fire Protection District Chief Scott Berner said Friday morning as he and one of his crew revisited the site to extinguish hot spots. He said the fire appears to have begun at the rear, southeast corner of the business, but its cause has not been determined, nor has a financial estimate of the damage to the building and the contents.
Scola called the store a “100 percent loss,” and contents appeared destroyed by fire, heat, smoke and water. Broken windows were brimming with cans and broken bottles.
Mohamed Mohsin, a partner in the business and the “Mo” in its name, said the business had been around 30 to 40 years and he bought it in 2003. He said a tenant of a mobile home he owns adjacent to the store called him to let him know it was on fire. “I live just down the road,” Mohsin said. “I called 911 and was told somebody already called.”
He got to the scene before any fire crews and saw flames already tearing through the roof.
Another partner in the business, Abdelrahman “Charlie” Nagi, also surveyed the damage Friday morning. He said he understands the fire likely began in the kitchen area of the business. The store closed at 9 on Thursday night but employees always ensure everything is turned off.
“As long as nobody got hurt, that’s all I care about,” he said. “Money comes and goes, but people do not come and go.”
Most of the responding agencies assisted primarily by providing water tenders because there was no water supply at the market, Scola said, and the nearest hydrant is almost a mile away.
Hours after the Mo’s fire, Ceres and Modesto Fire Department crews joined on another structure fire – a home on the 2300 block of Ustick Road, southwest of Hanshaw Middle School.
The dispatch was about 4:50 a.m. First on the scene found heavy fire from the back yard – a big shed and awning burned – and back of the two-story house, Scola said. No residents were in the house, he said. Firefighters initially dealt with protecting a threatened home next door while awaiting additional crews to start an interior attack on the burning house.
The first floor of the house was heavily involved in flames, Scola said, and the second story had heavy smoke and heat. About two dozen firefighters from the two departments had the fire under control within 30 minutes, he said.
The house is occupied, with furnishings and two cars in the drive, Scola said, but no one was home at the time of the fire. The blaze appears to have begun in the backyard area, but cause has not yet been determined because of heavy damage, he said.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327