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Home Depot fire may have been arson
Almond orchard fire DSC_0347.jpg
A Manteca firefighter framed by burned almond limbs was part of three teams putting out smoldering remnants of a massive almond orchard fire Monday afternoon on Woodward Avenue west of McKinley Avenue that could be seen from as far away as downtown Manteca. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

A rare almond orchard fire, a house fire caused by cooking oil, and an arson blaze that destroyed sheds on display at Home Depot kept Manteca firefighters busy.

Orchard fire

Five fire trucks and one water tanker responded to a fire at a 20-acre almond orchard Monday at 3:30 p.m. Manteca fire officials said the fire was accidently started by the owner of the property who was burning hundreds of tree stumps throughout the property when the fire got out of control. The fire burned in a southerly direction to a bordering levee at the rear of the orchard 

Battalion Chief Dave Marques said the loss was limited to a concentration of some 50 trees and additional spotted tree losses trees reaching to the south of the orchard at the levee.  Marques said the trees were laden with nuts that had yet to be harvested.  A property owner to the east of the fire spotted the flames and smoke and called 911.

One almond grower noted that 50 trees would represent about one-quarter acre adding that an acre is currently bringing $5,000 an acre at harvest.  He also noted that the life of an almond tree is about 25 years that would mean future losses as well. It typically takes five years for an almond tree to produce nuts   It was noted the removal backhoe work of a damaged tree and cleansing of the ground as added costs in the replacement of a tree.  

Firefighters said they could see flames and smoke as they left their station to respond to the call on the west end of Woodward Avenue across from the gated Oakwood Shores community. The first responders faced another challenge with commute traffic failing to slow as they passed their engines parked along the shoulder of the road – continually waving for the oncoming traffic to slow down. 

The engines were deployed along the north and south side of the fire and the eastern edge.  Lathrop-Manteca firefighters also responded to the call – all having to walk their way into the orchard on foot with single fire lines.

There were some 20 personnel on the fire lines after a full call-back of off-duty personnel and reserves was sounded.  Firefighters were on the scene for about three hours.  

Sheds burn at

Home Depot

Manteca firefighters responded to the Home Depot on East Yosemite Avenue in the early predawn hours Sunday where three Tuff Sheds being ablaze in the parking lot.

Store management told fire investigators they have security camera footage of the incident and hope to be able to identify who set the sheds afire.  Home Depot list prices of the Tuff Sheds on their website averaged $1,500 each for an estimated total loss near $5,000. 

Battalion Chief David Marques said his department is awaiting the camera footage as primary evidence for their investigation. He called the fire definitely suspicious in nature.  

Cooking oil fire

causes $150,000

in losses at home

A fire at 6:30 p.m. Sunday caused an estimated $100,000 in structural damage and $50,000 in content losses at a home in the 1000 block of Topaz Court, south of Louise Avenue and east of Union Road.

Manteca Fire Battalion Chief Dave Marques said a cooking oil spill at the kitchen stove caught fire. A woman was burned and transported to a hospital for an overnight stay.  A teenager in the home suffered a cut to his hand, he said, as the fast-moving fire reached the attic area. Much of the burned roof structure had to be removed by firefighters.

Marques said the fire call came in as a burn victim but was changed by dispatchers to a structure fire as firefighters neared the home, finding a single-story residential home with light smoke and flames coming from the roof vents.  

As seven addition fire units arrived at the home the fire was quickly brought under control and salvage operations got underway, Marques said.  

Both Manteca City Fire Department and the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Department responded to the scene that is directly east of Agate Avenue.  Seventeen career firefighters and three reserves responded.

 Construction crews were at the residence on Monday beginning a restoration of the structure for the home owner.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email