Crews from several fire agencies fought high winds and high temperatures Friday evening to control a vegetation blaze that quickly grew and ended up badly damaging or destroying six town houses in a neighborhood south of Kansas Avenue and west of Highway 99.
At about 7:40 p.m., as crews continued to work the scene, Modesto Regional Fire Authority interim Chief Sean Slamon said the “forward progress” of the blaze had been contained and firefighters still were “dealing with a couple of the homes.” Of the six town houses that became involved, “four are lost for sure,” he said, and the other two would at least need significant repair.
Slamon said the incident began as a vegetation fire on the raised berm of earth at Emerald and Kansas avenues, but with winds around 17 mph and the temperature near or above 90, it moved quickly. At about 6:45 p.m., employees at a Starbucks in the 800 block of Kansas Avenue reported that the fence behind the business was starting to catch fire.
The town houses that burned are closely clustered east of Emerald Avenue. To the south is Loletta Avenue; to the north, no street separates them from the grassy berm. Amid heavy smoke, neighbors covered their faces with cloths and dust masks and used garden hoses to wet vegetation to protect against the spreading fire.
The American Red Cross was helping the displaced residents. There were no reports of injuries.