Fire temporarily closes Modesto’s Yesterday’s Books

Fire Temporarily Closes Yesterday's Books

A fire started in the attic of Yesterday's Books on McHenry Ave. Monday morning
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A fire started in the attic of Yesterday's Books on McHenry Ave. Monday morning

Thousands of books, including rare and out-of-print books, at Yesterday’s Books on McHenry Avenue survived a fire Monday with only a slight smoky smell.

The fire broke out around 11:30 a.m. at the used book store, which has been in Modesto since 1980 and at its location south of Standiford Avenue since 1993. Employees smelled smoke and called 911, which brought a large response from the Modesto Fire Department.

The fire started in the attic, charring insulation, but was out before firefighters arrived.

“It flashed throughout the majority of the attic ... meaning there was enough smoke in there, the gases got hot enough that they ignited and then it went back out more than likely because it had no more oxygen,” Chief Sean Slamon said. “We have taken our time and tried to preserve as much as possible, and all the books are in good shape.”

Firefighters opened the ceiling and pulled out the insulation, taking care to cover the books and merchandise in those areas.

Owner Paula Gauthier was at home doing math with her son, whom she schools at home, when she got a call from one of her employees about the fire. She started working at Yesterday’s Books in 1993 and in 2008 bought it from previous owner, Larry Dorman, who still owns the building. Both were at the scene Monday assessing the damage.

Gauthier was waiting for an electrician to determine how much work needed to be done.

“We can be thankful that there was no one hurt, and there is only minor damage to the insulation and ceiling tiles, along with a fair amount of carpet cleaning and cosmetic work that needs to be done,” she posted on the store’s Facebook page. “We will definitely be closed for the rest of the day and possibly a couple more as we tidy things up.”

The cause remains under investigation.