A Darrah Street apartment complex caught fire Wednesday evening and fire officials say it occurred because of illegal wiring that bypassed the electrical meter.
Ceres and Modesto fire crews made quick work of extinguishing the fire, which was called in at 4:42 p.m. but six cats were found dead.
The first caught on or near the porch of the fourplex unit where a woman had been living and was in the process of being evicted by the owner. Witnesses told investigators that the woman left the building just prior to the breakout of the fire.
Firefighters found no one in the two upstairs units but there was evidence that people were squatting there.
Turlock Irrigation District officials cut off the electricity to the structure. Loss of power affected two adults and three children living in an apartment unit across the street were displaced and received relocation assistance from the American Red Cross.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage.
Not long after the Darrah fire, Ceres firefighters were dispatched to a fire caused by a window-mounted air conditioner in an 80-year-old home where an elderly man had escaped. Firefighters responded quickly to the 6:15 p.m. call.
The 69-year-old resident was sleeping in the 500-square-foot house when he was awakened by the screams of a smoke detector. He was able to make his way to safety through the smoke-blackened room by the help of a caretaker.
One of the man's four dogs did not survive the fire.
The fire completely destroyed the house and the man and his caretaker were offered temporary housing through the Red Cross. Damage was estimated at $20,000 due to the age and size of the home.