Manteca firefighters faced arcing power lines inside a burning house in the 400 block of East Alameda Street at 12:30 a.m. Thursday after knocking down the heavy black smoke and flame coming from the front of the building.
Battalion Chief Kyle Shipherd estimated the loss to the structure at $100,000 and $10,000 to the contents. The couple living in the residence were said to be away for the night with the man working in an almond operation.
A motorist driving down Alameda Street was one of several who phoned in the blaze to the 911 dispatcher. Firemen laid multiple hose lines to the east of the home where they had seven engines on the scene. It took an aggressive attack some 10 minutes before firefighters could enter the house, according to the fire department report.
The arcing power lines could not be shut off because the PG&E meter allegedly had been illegally bypassed with a set of jumper cables – a potentially dangerous situation for any firefighter whose hose stream came in contact with the charge being generated through the power lines. The electric service outside the structure had to be cut for the safety of the firemen.
Once the fire was extinguished, salvage and overhaul operations were handled by the remaining fire units on the scene. No firefighters were injured during the attack on the blaze.
Lathrop-Manteca fire crews responded with mutual aid as did the Manteca District Ambulance. There were 16 career firefighters on the fire and two reserves.
A PG&E spokesperson emphasized that not only is it illegal to bypass electrical meters but it can lead to severe injuries or death from electrocution.