Neighbors not yet up and outside to welcome the new year didn’t immediately notice a fire that broke out Monday morning at a vacant single-story residence on Maple Street. Police did, though, and called dispatch as they went to the scene shortly after 8 a.m.
Officers arrived on the 200 block of Maple, just southwest of Maze Boulevard and South Jefferson Street, to see the back side of a small dwelling burning, apparently from fire that began in a pile of rubbish and debris.
Officer Kalani Souza said the home has been vacant and boarded up but reportedly has attracted transients and illegal dumpers.
Modesto and Ceres firefighters arrived to find the perhaps 400-square-foot building fully involved in fire, said Modesto Fire Department Support/EMS Division Chief Tim Tietjen. Crews’ major concerns were utility lines burning and falling in the alley and structures on the Maze Boulevard side of the alley that were threatened and beginning to smoke, he said.
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Tietjen confirmed the fire appears to have started outside. It is under investigation, and cause had not been determined Monday morning.
The building had burned in the past and, according to neighbors, either was in the process of being reconstructed or already had been, Tietjen said. The residence has its own address behind a bigger house at 216 Maple. Residents of that home told firefighters that no one was supposed to be living in the small home at the time.
AT&T/Comcast lines were burned in the fire, Tietjen said. Modesto Irrigation District had crew out checking its lines; it was unclear whether there was any power loss from the fire.