Electrical arcing caused the fire that resulted in $25,000 of damage to a ranch-style house on Peach Avenue late Tuesday night.
A lot of the estimated total damage was due to the thick smoke that built up inside the house for two hours. The fire was contained in one of the six bedrooms of the house. The fire originated in the bedroom closet, according to the investigation that concluded Wednesday morning.
“(The homeowners) were gone for about two hours so the fire smoldered for two hours,” resulting in the smoke damage throughout the house, said Lathrop-Manteca Fire District Chief Gene Neely.
The homeowners were coming home from a birthday dinner at a Stockton restaurant in honor of their 10-year-old granddaughter who was visiting with her father from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates when they discovered the fire. As they opened the front door, they were met by smoke so thick they could not see anything at all inside. The son-in-law had to crawl on his hands and knees to go inside and open some of the windows.
It was fortunate that the fire did not explode when they opened the front door, Neely said.
“They were very lucky,” he said.
As a precautionary measure, firefighters going inside the house had to wear SCBA masks – self-contained breathing apparatus – a device worn by firefighters as well as other rescue workers to provide them with breathable air while working in an “immediate danger to life and health” atmosphere.
Manteca City firefighters who provided mutual aid by bringing two fire engines left the scene before the end of the clean-up to respond to other fire calls. Lathrop-Manteca Fire personnel led by Battalion Chief Don Jones worked at the fire scene until shortly before midnight, Chief Neely said.
Mutual aid was also provided by the Tracy Fire Department with one engine responding. The Manteca District Ambulance was also there as part of the protocol when a house fire is involved.
No one was hurt in the fire which was reported around 9 o’clock. The house, located at the end of a long driveway, is on a tree-dotted five-acre property in rural south Manteca. The unincorporated county area falls under the jurisdiction of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District. A total of five fire engines responded which temporarily closed off the portion of Peach Avenue between South Union Road and South Airport Way.