A fire charred two units of a Richland Avenue apartment complex Thursday afternoon, displacing six adults and two children.
The fire broke out in units #140 and #144 at the western section of the Pine Ridge Apartments north of Hatch Road at approximately 5:31 p.m.
A full structure fire response was initiated through the fire resource sharing program. A total of 32 firefighters from Ceres, Modesto City and Stanislaus Consolidated fire departments tackled the fire.
“Our first two units arrived and found heavy fire from a second-floor apartment that was spreading to the unit below,” said Ceres Battalion Chief Jeff Serpa. Firefighters immediately put water on the fire as well, conducted a search for any possible trapped victims and evacuated neighboring units. All residents had made their way to safety and nobody was hurt during the fire or the suppression efforts. “A second alarm was called quickly after the arrival of the first two units because of the size of the fire and the potential.”
The fire occurred in a building with four units downstairs and four upstairs. The quick attack limited damage to the single upstairs and single downstairs units below it.
Serpa said the fire was unique in that the downstairs unit was ignited. He explained that the fire dropped from the second-floor patio outside of the downstairs patio sliding glass door and that radiant heat caused the curtains inside to burst into flames.
Firefighters were on scene for approximately three hours, said Serpa.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and will be pinpointed through an investigation of the county’s Fire Investigation Unit.
The displaced residents have been set up for emergency housing through the Red Cross.
Serpa commented that a response of a few minutes later response could have resulted in a much different outcome.
“We were actually very, very busy before that point so none of our units were in quarters and they were coming from other calls,” said Serpa. “It just really proves the point of an engine-based program to where we’re always in the fire engines. If we were in little quick attack units on medical calls and go back to the station and grab the full-sized engines that’s just a recipe for bad things. Those little quick attacks don’t have the capabilities of a full-sized fire engine. This is just an example of why we do that; we need to have our tools with us at all times.”