UPDATE: Modesto, Ceres and Stanislaus Consolidated firefighters spent about five hours knocking down an apartment building fire to a smolder Monday night and early Tuesday.
The fire collapsed the roof and heavily damaged probably eight second-floor apartment units in the condemned building, Modesto Fire Department Division Chief Michael Lillie said Tuesday.
Witnesses told firefighters there were an undetermined number of people in the building when the fire began, Lillie said, but no one was found when crews initially fought the blaze from the interior and searched the rooms.
According to the Modesto Fire incident report by Battalion Chief Randy Anderson, "With the fire gaining a strong hold on the roof structure, crews found the fire getting behind them and retreated to the outside."
There was no word early Tuesday on the cause of the fire. Any gas and electric service to the building already had been cut, Lillie said.
After crews were cleared to get some rest, firefighters were expected to return to the scene about 9 a.m. Tuesday to secure the building, Lillie said.
A fire Monday night heavily damaged the Ninth Street apartment building the city of Modesto condemned in the summer.
No one was believed to be in the boarded-up building when firefighters responded to the 8:06 p.m. call at 624 Ninth, city spokeswoman Jessica Smart said.
No firefighters had been injured as of about 9:15 p.m., she said.
The initial flames were mainly near the rear of the two-story structure, which had 27 studio apartments.
The cause and the extent of the damage were not known Monday.
The city condemned the building after complaints about mold, rotting floors, vermin, electrical and plumbing problems, and more.
The building is owned by Turlock residents Steve and Noma Arakelian.
Steve Arakelian told the Modesto Bee earlier that he could not afford the repairs ordered by the city and had put the property up for sale. Rent was $575 or $585 a month, which is low in a time of rising housing costs.
Displaced residents got help from government and non-profit groups, but many said they faced an uncertain future.