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Manteca police and fire are looking for the responsible parties in the rash of suspected arson fires along Moffat Boulevard. South County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of responsible parties. The anonymous tip line is available by calling 823-4636.
The 99 Recycling building went up in flames Wednesday
It marked the third structure in less than 30 days to burn within the 400 block of Moffat Boulevard.
And this time a firefighter sustained a back injury while the loss was pegged at $100,000. The firefighter was treated at the emergency room and then sent home.
Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters said the department fears a fire bug may be at work as the buildings were generally vacant and had no utilities going to them that could trigger a fire.
“They are happening between 4 and 6 o’clock in the morning,” Waters said.
The fire chief also noted that transients had been chased from all three buildings over recent months. That is why when firefighters have responded they initially have concerns about someone being in the structures.
Waters said there is a concern that such fires could spread to nearby structures which includes residential neighborhoods.
Wednesday’s fire was called in at 5:49 a.m.
The first engine on the scene at 430 Moffat Boulevard encountered heavy smoke and fire coming from the structure. Firefighters immediately performed rescue operations to make sure nobody was in the building as it was known place where homeless take shelter.
Firefighters aggressively attached the blaze with several hose lines to avoid the fire from spreading to nearby structures
Combating the fire required all of Manteca’s available front-line resources - three fire engines and the aerial platform truck. Off-duty personnel were called back to man back up engines at the city’s three fire stations. Several emergencies occurred during the personnel call back that were covered by off-duty freighters reporting back to work. Reserve firefighters also helped combat the blaze.
Crews remained on scene for five hours performing salvage, overhaul, and fire investigation.
The first fire occurred on Saturday, April 9, at 4:24 a.m. at a vacant metal commercial building early at 420 Moffat Boulevard. Manteca firefighters assisted by their counterparts from Lathrop Manteca Fire were able to being the blaze under control in 20 minutes. Large piles of trash inside the building required extensive overhaul to assure full extinguishment.
The building that had been used by homeless was completely destroyed. The loss was placed at $30,000.
Then on Friday, April 29, at 4 a.m. a onetime radiator shop in the 400 block of Moffat Boulevard went up in flames. As in the two fires that followed, firefighters were uncertain whether homeless were still encamped inside so they initially conducted a rescue search.
The loss to the building was estimated at $25,000 and an additional $5,000 loss to the contents.
The building had also been used as a gas station in past years.