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Two families flee mobile park blaze

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POSTED January 27, 2012 12:21 p.m.

Fire engulfed two mobile homes on a Manteca dairy shortly before 4 a.m. Friday morning in the 10700 block of East Louise Avenue with two families fleeing into the darkness for their lives as flames leaped into the night sky.

Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neeley said the fire at the B&B Dairy, between Austin and Jack Tone roads, was caused by an electrical heater in one of the trailers noticed by a 14-year-old youth who heard popping and crackling and alerted his sleeping relatives. The father reportedly ran to the second trailer ordering those sleeping family members out of the structure.

The Lathrop department had one engine and a water tender dispatched to the blaze and asked for a mutual-aid response. Ripon Consolidate Fire District responded with one engine and a second water tender and Manteca City Fire Department sent one of its engines to the scene.

The occupants were all dairy workers, Neeley said. There were a total of three men and two boys, two women and two girls. The chief said a predominant north wind carried the flames to the second mobile home some 20 feet away. Both structures were destroyed, leaving only the framing standing.

Chief Neeley valued the loss of the two mobile homes at $50,000 to $60,000 with the content loss set at $10,000. The families went to stay with relatives in Manteca and initially turned down a Red Cross offer to stay in a motel. Neeley said the offer for a two day stay still stands, however.

While it wasn’t clear whether there was a smoke detector in the buildings, the fact that the teen was awakened by the noise of the fire breaking out discounts the presence of any alarm, the chief said.

“We are lucky there wasn’t a fatality in this fire,” Neeley said. “We were on the scene within eight minutes of receiving the call and both mobile homes were completely involved.”

He noted that once a mobile home catches fire it can become engulfed in a very short time. The chief emphasized the need for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all residential units to give families and extra measure of security should their home catch on fire or be filled with carbon monoxide fumes.

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