Two adults and an infant avoided serious injury Monday afternoon after a heroic escape from a second-story Ceres apartment threatened by the flames of a fast-moving fire, authorities said.
The two adults and 11-month-old were trapped in an upper unit as a fire tore through two buildings of a complex in the 1600 block of Richland Avenue, according to Battalion Chief Michael Lillie of the Ceres Fire Department.
One of the adults dropped the child into the waiting arms of people below, then both adults jumped out of the unit, Lillie said.
All avoided serious injuries, and were treated at the scene and released by paramedics, Lillie said.
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Lillie said the three-alarm fire was reported at 3:45 p.m. and was believed to have started in a storage shed near the two buildings.
The blaze quickly spread to an upstairs walkway of one of the buildings, and then to the units.
The fire appeared to be under control by about 5:15 p.m.
No firefighters were injured, Lillie said, although they were dealing with outside temperatures that reached triple digits.
Thanks to the quick work of firefighters, a cat and an urn containing the ashes of one occupant’s loved one were safely retrieved.
Lillie said investigators were on scene to try to determine the cause of the fire, which brought crews from Ceres and the Modesto Regional Fire Authority.
Ten engine companies, two truck companies, three battalion chiefs and two safety officers were on scene, Lillie said.
Six upstairs apartments were destroyed and six downstairs units suffered major smoke or water damage, Lillie said. A third building was not damaged by the fire, but the electricity had to be turned off and those residents also were displaced.
The Stanislaus office of the American Red Cross was assisting in housing for the affected tenants.