By JASON CAMPBELL
Illegal aerial fireworks that neighbors said were so intense it sounded like a firefight in Kabul may have caused extensive damage to two homes just southeast of Woodward Park on Derrick Avenue near Snowberry Street.
Manteca Fire responded around 11 p.m. Thursday to the two home fires that were less than a half mile from where four homes under construction burned less than 20 hours earlier in a blaze that is suspected to be arson. It also came two days after two homes were damaged on Bermuda Lane west of Veritas School and Antigua Park and west of Union Road between Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue.
No other details on the Derrick Avenue fires was available as of midnight other than neighbors saying just over an hour earlier there had been “intense” aerial fireworks displays in the immediate area that sent embers cascading towards the ground. As crews were dealing with the home fires they also had to respond to an alarm at Stonegate Apartments on Center Street where they found a dumpster on fire.
An outdoor fire between two homes on the 1600 block of Bermuda Avenue on Tuesday caused $75,000 worth of damage to the two dwellings and prompted a multi-agency fire response.
According to the Manteca Fire Department’s major incident report, firefighters were first dispatched at 1:35 p.m. to a structure fire and learned in transit that there may be two dwellings involved. The initial observation revealed that the outdoor fire had caught the fence between the two homes on fire, and the flames were extending into the eaves and at the attic of both homes, potentially indicating that the fire had spread into the living space.
After additional units had responded, firefighters were able to enter the building and determine that flames did in fact spread into the attic of one of the homes, while the other suffered extensive water damage due to a broken pipe in the wall next to where the fire began. Both homes sustained moderate fire damage to the exterior walls and the fascia, and an extensive overhaul was completed while PG&E secured the electrical utilities for both homes.
Fire crews were on scene for approximately two hours to extinguish the blaze, and an investigation determined that the fire started outside between the two properties and quickly spread to the shared fence – which allowed for the flames to extend up into the eaves of the homes and into one of the attics. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.
Because of a longstanding mutual aid agreement between the two agencies, the Manteca Fire Department received assistance from the Lathrop Manteca Fire Department – which provided an engine and a battalion chief to the scene – to bring the total number of fire personnel responding to the scene to 19.