Fire destroyed an occupied travel trailer parked next to a home on Spruce Street just east of downtown Modesto on Tuesday morning.
Residents of the trailer and adjacent house evacuated without injury, but then spent many tense minutes trying to ensure that none of the several little dogs on the property were hurt or fled.
In the backyard, a man called for — and eventually found — two dogs he described as chiweenies. He shouted for housemates to close the gate to the alley.
In front, other residents tearfully looked for other dogs as firefighters worked to ensure the fire was extinguished. Eventually, a resident said all dogs were accounted for and uninjured. A couple were soaked from running through deep puddles.
Debra Watkins said she, her husband and adult son were staying in the trailer. Shortly before 8:30 a.m., "I just woke up, felt hot, I seen flames, grabbed my son and got out of there," she said. She said she didn't know how the fire may have started.
A Modesto police officer patrolling the North Martin Luther King Drive area near Mellis Park reported seeing a lot of black smoke and headed toward it, Division Chief Michael Lillie of the Modesto Fire Department said. He arrived at 317 Spruce to see the trailer well involved in flames, so the call was upgraded to a working structure fire.
Five engines, one truck and two battalion chiefs responded. Crews laid a hose between the trailer and home, limiting damage to the house to an exterior wall. Police also evacuated a neighboring house to the east of 317 Spruce, Lillie said.
Red Cross was requested to assist Watkins and her family, who were displaced from the trailer. The cause of the fire is under investigation.