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Candle causes $60K of damage to home

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Candle causes $60K of damage to home

Manteca firefighters hack through the roof of a Pine Street home shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday to quell a bedroom blaze that was believed to have been started by a candle next to a bed.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED December 10, 2009 1:56 a.m.
San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Thayer was in the right spot at the right time Wednesday when he saw smoke coming from a residence in the 400 block of Pine Street and radioed into his dispatcher while en route to another call.

The home is in central Manteca just a block south of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Thayer said he got to the front door at about the same time as the homeowner Donna Harp was exiting. He followed a garden house upstairs to a converted bedroom in the attic where her son Ron Harper was attempting to put out the fire believed to have been started when a candle ignited bedding.

Smoke reportedly filled the second floor as other family members fled from the small frame home including a mother with an 18-month-old child.

Fireman said Harp with hose in hand was lying on his belly with only about a foot of air space above him when the deputy tugged on his leg and escorted him down the collapsible ladder and out of the home. Harp told firefighters that his 18-year-old son Derreck had come downstairs and alerted him that his bed was on fire. He responded by using a fire extinguisher. When that didn’t work, firemen said he went for the garden hose.

Deputy Thayer, being first on the scene, confirmed that all the family members were safe and made sure the 18-year-old was taken to Doctors Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. He also made sure that the homeowner was taken care of and not going into any level of shock before leaving.

Firemen secured the homeowner’s purse from the downstairs area of the home and retrieved already wrapped Christmas presents that they placed on the front lawn to keep them from further smoke damage.

Some 20 Manteca firefighters responded along with an engine from the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District.

Battalion Chief Bob Davis said the home is not inhabitable and the utilities were turned off. There was moderate damage throughout the attic area. The estimated structure loss was $40,000 while another $20,000 in damages was done to the contents.

Davis credited the early detection of the blaze for keeping damages low. Firemen were on scene for nearly three hours cleaning up. One fireman was slightly injured he complaining of shoulder pain.
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