A Manteca District Ambulance crew partnered with firefighters Friday morning in responding to a blazing structure and saving two family dogs from inside a duplex filled with heavy smoke and flames.
The ambulance crew spotted the fire on their way back from a late breakfast as they were about to take on an assignment transferring ill patients when they saw the smoke in the 200 block of Francis Street east of North Main Street and south of Jason Street.
A veteran of nine years with the ambulance service, EMT Vinnie Mejia and his partner raced around the outside of the smoke-filled duplex calling for anyone inside who might be trapped while summoning the Manteca Fire Department on their cell phone. Black smoke filled the residence down to the floor that kept the medics from entering. A large family dog could be seen on the floor near the sliding glass door. They pulled it out they said it appeared to have been overcome by the smoke.
The first responders carried the dog to the front yard and had begun CPR while one EMT fashioned a human oxygen mask to the dog’s muzzle. When firefighters arrived they had special masks for dogs on their truck that the two ambulance staffers used to get more oxygen into the dog’s lungs. They said they also covered it with ice packs which seemed to make a difference and within minutes the animal began to blink, finally opening his eyes.
A second ambulance unit, assigned for the security of the firefighters, arrived and assisted in bringing the dog back to life outside the duplex.
The dog finally struggled to its feet and was very wobbly, the medics recalled. A Manteca Animal Control officer arrived on the scene and took the dog to a vet for further treatment.
A second dog was seen by firefighters — potentially spooked by the smoke, flames and sirens— running into the attached duplex unit that had also filled with smoke. Manteca Fire Captain Rob Gercyl went in after the dog and brought it out to safety.
The family of four was away from their home at work when the fire broke out in a bedroom, authorities said. The American Red Cross representatives responded to the scene and put the family up in a motel for several nights. The second unit of the duplex had so much smoke throughout that it was uninhabitable as well, according to Battalion Chief David Marques.
The number of firefighters on the scene totaled 27 including those from the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Department. Eleven fire apparatus responded from the cities of Manteca and Lathrop bringing the fire under control in 45 minutes. Firefighters saved everything that was located in the family’s garage including a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the chief said.
Fire crews remained on the scene for several hours in cleanup operations and conducting their investigation as to the cause of the fire. Battalion Chief David Marques said the living space and the attic of the duplex were completely destroyed.
Marques estimated the loss to the structure at $89,000.