A candle apparently ignited an early morning fire that destroyed a portion of a mansion east of Modesto on Thursday. The fire caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
It started just after 1 a.m. in the south bedroom wing of the 5,355-square-foot home on a private drive called Trail Way, east of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks and south of Parker Road, said Modesto Regional Fire Battalion Chief Hugo Patino.
Because of the size of the custom home, the first engine company on scene called a second alarm, which dispatched additional resources to the estate.
A woman who was alone in the mansion when it caught fire suffered minor smoke inhalation and was treated at the scene. Patino didn't know whether she had been asleep, had left the candle unattended, or if it had been knocked over.
It took about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire, which was contained to the south wing of the house, consisting of three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and seating area. Those rooms are in addition to the much larger kitchen and living areas in the center of the home.
The south wing almost was entirely gutted, Patino said, and the rest of the mansion sustained heat and smoke damage.
The fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage to the structure and an additional $500,000 in damage to its contents. It is currently uninhabitable.
American Red Cross workers initially were asked for assistance, but were later called off. They were told one man lived there. Property records identify Modesto attorney John Machado as the owner.
The home was featured as the Decorator Showhouse in 1994, a benefit at the time for Community Hospice.
It was built in 1991 on a 22-acre site on a bluff above Dry Creek. An area architect helped Machado and his then-wife design the home's living-area "pods" linked by long corridors and landscaped courtyards, with balconies, secluded gardens, pools and fountains, in the style of a Mediterranean villa.
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