Pounding on the front door alerted a still-sleeping Manteca family that their house was on fire Tuesday morning.
Lonnie Hanson said he had just come out of his house across the street on Mohawk Way in Raymus Village northeast of the Highway 99 and Lathrop Road interchange. He saw smoke coming from the garage of Dave and Shirley Jacobs’ home in the 14000 block of Pueblo Drive. He said he immediately called 911 as he ran toward the front of the house attempting to alert the family to the fire.
Two county Public Works employees were also nearby and heard the yelling and spotted the smoke as they ran toward the house picking up garden hoses that they trained on the structure. Hanson said it only took the firefighters about four minutes to arrive on the scene. Three engines responded from Lathrop-Manteca and one from Manteca.
Jacobs said when he was awakened about 9:30 a.m. by his neighbor, he ran through the house to the garage access door from the house and opened it with the fire and smoke forcing him back. He slammed the door, he said, and ran into his 19-year-old son’s bedroom, jerked him out of bed, and put him in his wheelchair.
His son, Kyle Jacobs, has multiple sclerosis.
Jacobs said he had guided him to the front door and realized he couldn’t get him out because the wheelchair access ramp was located in the garage, now full of fire and smoke. Jacobs carried his son out the front door in his arms and sat him in a lawn chair as he went back into the home and carried the chair out of the house.
When Jacobs attempted to gain entry again to retrieve his car keys, the house had filled with choking and blinding smoke, he recalled.
Asked how he was able to carry the heavy motorized chair out of the house, he replied that it must have just been the buildup of adrenalin in his body that gave him the added strength.
Damon Knight, a neighbor from across the street, saw that Jacobs had nothing on his feet that matched his in size – size 13. He brought him his leather slippers to keep his feet warm. The family gathered together on the sidewalk near their driveway where a firefighter offered blankets for their son. Another neighbor from a home across the street brought the couple hot cups of coffee to warm them up.
Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely estimated the loss to the rental property at $35,000 and another $6,000 to the contents that included smoke damage throughout the dwelling. It was also noted that the Jacobs did not have renters’ insurance, something they had planned to take out recently.
Neely said the Red Cross arrived at the home Tuesday afternoon and put the family up in a motel for three days and will help them find permanent accommodations in the community. Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatuses searched the house, including under the beds, for a family cat but they couldn’t locate the pet.