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Mantecans take in evacuees from wildfires
CDF fire

Sue Fink’s house will be a little bit more crowded for the time being.

In the last week, Fink – the daughter of former Manteca mayor and longtime councilman Jack Snyder – has been making arrangements in her home for her father-in-law and her nephew and his wife to have a safe place to stay while the California wildfires decimate rural communities around the state.

Her father-in-law, Joe Tanski, fled his home in Big Creek – nestled in the mountains east of Fresno – last week as the Creek Fire bore down on his neighborhood. While the fire destroyed homes on his street, the fire spared his home but because of the lack of containment and the direction that the fire is burning, access to the properties – even for those that know now that they have lost everything that they own – isn’t going to be possible for some time.

Tanski, who is 91 years old, routinely visits Manteca on the weekends to spend time with his son and can usually be found walking the Tidewater Bikeway from near Library Park down to Lathrop Road and back.

“It’s still pretty new and he’s doing okay, but he talked to one of his neighbors who owns a construction business and lost everything – his home, his equipment, his livelihood,” Fink said. “He told him ‘I have to now figure out everything that I own – down to the dishes.’

“It’s a lot to process.”

The same fire that nearly destroyed Tanski’s home is also leaving other members of Fink’s family on edge.

Vanessa Trapasso-Newman, who is married to Fink’s nephew, had to flee her community in North Fork when embers from the Creek Fire drifted for miles and created a secondary blaze that is now threatening their rural home.

With Cal Fire providing routine updates to homeowners, it now becomes a waiting game for Trapasso-Newman and others that live in the area that are hoping that the wind does not pick up again and rain comes early this year.

“I’m very much appreciative of our firefighters – they’re putting their neck on the line for all of us and are working around the clock most of the time,” Trapasso-Newman said. “I wish them safety and peace so that they can go back home to their families – my brother-in-law is a fireman and I appreciate all of the work that they’re putting in protect homes and people. And to see that there are now firefighters from Australia that are here helping – they’re doing everything they can.”

In the case of Tanski, it may be some time before he’s able to go back to his home since the fire destroyed all of the powerlines that service the hamlet and with many homes having their own separate wells, turning on the faucet won’t be possible until energy has been restored.

On Thursday, firefighters from both the City of Manteca and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District returned back home after being deployed for nearly a month to two large fires – starting at the Lake Fire in Southern California before being reassigned to the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in the North Bay Area.

Strike Team XSJ4180-C was comprised of firefighters from Manteca, Lathrop, Linden-Peters, Clements, and Lockeford.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.