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Lathrop container fire started by grinder causes some $10,000 in damage
Container fire DSC 4337a
A Lathrop-Manteca firefighter works to clear the debris in an 8X 20 foot-storage container at the end of Park Avenue in Lathrop Friday afternoon. - photo by GLENN KAHL

LATHROP — Lathrop and Manteca firefighters responded to a reported structure and grass fire Friday afternoon at the end of Park Avenue in Lathrop – north of Louise Avenue and just east of McKinley Avenue.

A responding engine crew radioed back to the dispatcher that firefighters could see a black head of smoke from the direction of the call.

Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neeley suspected the cause of the fire came from an employee for the Gunite Prestige operation who had been doing some grinding and a spark caught weeds on fire – in turn licking up the back of the container and igniting the contents inside.

Neeley estimated the loss to the contents of the container as between $5,000 and $10,000. The loss was mostly small industrial equipment and supplies.

The blaze that put smoke over a hundred feet in the air was first spotted by Lathrop Police Services officers who were driving down McKinley Avenue radioing dispatchers to alert the fire department.  It was at first believed that two containers were on fire because of the smoke concentration.

There were four fire units that responded to the incident from both the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District and the Manteca Fire Department.  Both provided mutual aid immediately on hearing a “structure fire” call dispatched over the radio.

Thursday about 8 a.m. saw another Lathrop fire call at the E.R. Carpenter carpeting firm in the 17000 block of Harlan Road.  Chief Gene Neeley said that six to seven large cubes that are used to manufacture carpeting foam were destroyed.  He estimated the loss to the firm of about $10,000 per cube.

Firefighters were on the scene of the fire for about three hours with cleanup operations, he said.