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Blaze destroys ivy laden fence by Hildebrand Park

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Blaze  destroys ivy laden fence by  Hildebrand Park

Firefighters douse smoldering ivy on a fence backing up to Hildebrand Park.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 24, 2009 2:24 a.m.
The fire that destroyed a section of a residential ivy fence next to Hildebrand Park Tuesday afternoon in Manteca was like a dog whose bark is worse than its bite.

A column of thick white smoke rose high into the air like the sinister stem of a tornado, accompanied by a thick pall of smoke that covered the residential and commercial blocks immediately surrounding the park sent scared and concerned neighbors scrambling out into the streets. Among those who ran outside was Natasha Cook who was inside her mother’s house when fire broke out in the back yard ivy fence. Cook, who just graduated from California State University, Sonoma just finished enrolling for fall classes at Delta College online when she looked out of the window and saw flames in the back of the house.

“I was really scared,” she said, adding, “I lived in this house since I was little.”

The quick arrival of two Manteca Fire trucks and quick action by city firefighters limited the damage to just a minimal section of the lush fence that stood between the small neighborhood park located at the dead end of Fir Street to the north. No part of the house was damaged. Even the patio table standing on the grass and its oversized canvas umbrella shade barely an arm’s length from the burning ivy were not scorched. However, the foliage on the south side of a tall tree growing in the park turned brown because of the heat but did not burn.

Neighbor Scott Johnson said he saw a pair of young men smoking under the tree next to the ivy fence moments before the fire broke out. Another resident, a female, said she also witnessed the two men smoking before they went back to their car which was parked on the Fir Street side of the park.

Homeowner Suzanne Cook, who arrived home from her job in Ripon while the firefighters were cleaning up the smoky mess, said she had asked the city before to construct a fence between the park and her house to give her family privacy. The city never responded to her request, she said. The well-appointed small neighborhood park with children’s play equipment and sand lots is located just behind her house and that of another house facing Garfield Street. The back of the park is an alley.
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