The Manteca Fire Department plans to institute legal steps that could lead to razing a vacant downtown building that caught on fire for the third time Tuesday morning.
A small house-like structure at Yosemite and Lincoln avenues that for years served as a used car lot office caught on fire shortly after 8 a.m. At the same time a natural gas cooking line broke at El Pollo Loco causing a fire at the Yosemite Avenue restaurant east of Highway 99.
The downtown fire was suspicious in nature just like the two previous ones at that location. In one fire, homeless individuals caught a mattress on fire after starting a fire to keep warm. The other fire was also believed to be started by the homeless. The fire on Tuesday originated on the outside of the structure.
Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd indicated the department is working on taking steps that could hopefully lead to the vacant building being torn down based on public safety and health concerns.
The fire underscored a growing concern of property owners and merchants on the north side of the 200 block of West Yosemite where the shuttered Sycamore Arms boarding house stands after being heavily damaged by fire 19 months ago. The fear is another fire could be started in the two-story building that homeless and others are seen going in and out of on a routine basis. If a fire starts and goes undetected long enough it could spread to the rest of the block.
Homeless, vagrants and others trespassing in vacant structures in recent years are believed to have been the cause of a number of building fires,
The two fires that broke out at the same time Tuesday morning had the benefit of shift change timing with two battalion chiefs on duty at their stations – Battalion Chief David Marques responded to the structure fire at the corner of Lincoln and Yosemite avenues and Battalion Chief Bill Canfield headed for the El Polo Loco Restaurant in the 1700 block of East Yosemite Avenue with his complement of engines.
Normally there is only one battalion chief on duty at a time to cover the entire city in an active supervisory role responding to most calls with his fire engines and firefighters.
The Lincoln Avenue fire had a suspicious point of origin at the back of the building facing an alley. Firefighters saved the building but it sustained moderate damage to both the exterior and the interior.
At the fast food restaurant, fire had erupted from a broken natural gas line in the kitchen below a cooking burner. The building was evacuated and much of the staff remained outside the kitchen and dining room areas finding the shady portions of the parking lot. The restaurant was closed for several hours waiting an inspection by a city building inspector. It was able to open before the arrival of the lunch crowd. The damage was said to be minimal.
The Lincoln building fire was deemed to be suspicious in nature with an investigation to follow to determine its origin. It is not believed that anyone was sleeping in the building since the fire began outside the structure, however police were called to the scene and talked with one individual.
The high temperatures have caused an increased number of calls for fire services for both medical and fire responses with both Manteca and Tracy having to rely on mutual aid support for fire and ambulance calls as well. Firefighters were on the scene for over two hours.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.