Horse dies in barn fire in Valley Home area near Oakdale

One horse died in a fire that quickly engulfed a barn on Lon Dale Road in the Valley Home area Wednesday evening, July 20, 2016.
One horse died in a fire that quickly engulfed a barn on Lon Dale Road in the Valley Home area Wednesday evening, July 20, 2016. Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District

Though about five others were rescued, a horse died in a barn fire Wednesday evening on Lon Dale Road between Valley Home and Oakdale.

Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District and the Modesto Fire Department responded to the dispatch about 5:40 p.m. and were on scene on the 4700 block of Lon Dale within eight minutes. Because the fire was at the Stanislaus and San Joaquin County border, the Escalon Fire Protection District also sent a water tender, said Stanislaus Consolidated Battalion Chief Eric DeHart.

“The first engine arrived and reported the structure fully involved, with flames out of all corners of the building,” DeHart said, “so they took a defensive attack and started knocking down the fire. There were no houses or outbuildings close enough to say they were threatened, but the barn did have several horses.”

With help from the residents, all but one horse got out. “I don’t think it was an open setup; they were all in stalls, so someone had to go in to get them,” DeHart said.

The structure, mostly wood with a metal roof, and lots of hay inside, went up in flames “extremely fast,” he said.

About five engines, a ladder truck, the tender, two battalion chiefs and a fire investigator responded. Crews knocked down the fire within 30 minutes, DeHart said. “All the engines shuttled water for us because there was no water system” at the scene, he said.

One firefighter suffered a minor burn when some embers from the structure fell in between his coat and hood, DeHart said, but he was treated at the scene and was able to return to duty. Stanislaus Consolidated also reported that one person was looked at on scene for smoke inhalation, but refused medical transport.

Crews were on the scene about two hours total. DeHart said the loss of the barn was estimated at $70,000 and its contents $10,000.

The investigator is looking into the fact there was an active control burn on an adjacent property, DeHart said. “It was a pile of almond attrition, basically almond tree prunings, 100 to 125 feet upwind of the structure, so that’s a possible source,” he said. He said he did not know of any possible electrical source within the barn or whether anyone was working inside the barn at the time of the fire.

The Hughson Fire Department assisted with Oakdale-area coverage while resources were being used on Lon Dale.

Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327