Three blazes kept crews with the Modesto Regional Fire Authority busy in south Modesto on Saturday, the first two within minutes of each other.
A 7:06 a.m. fire report sent engines to a vacant, detached residence behind a home at 1705 Seattle St. Four minutes later, units that hadn't already arrived were diverted to a fire a mile away at a car repair service at 1328 Crows Landing Road.
Neither Seattle home was occupied and both had been set afire previously, presumably by vagrants, said Battalion Chief Randy Anderson of the fire authority. Saturday's blaze caused about $35,000 in damage, he said.
Three or four cars were engulfed on Crows Landing Road when firefighters arrived. They tried to keep flames from spreading to a carport and a storage building with a small living area.
The situation turned dicey when a power line began "arcing and sparking," Anderson said, and firefighters backed away to avoid shocks until the Turlock Irrigation District shut off power at a nearby pole. That fire caused about $125,000 in damage.
The cause of both fires is under investigation, but they likely aren't related, Anderson said. Responses required 22 firefighters in eight vehicles, and the Ceres Fire Department helped as well.
At 9:23 p.m., the fire authority breathed a sigh of relief after quickly containing the third fire, which involved one or two smoldering tires to the rear of Larry's Tire Mart, 1453 S. Seventh St.
"There is a ton of tires stored there," Anderson said. "We'd still be there if they had all caught fire."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.