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Raging bamboo fire damages mobile home
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Manteca Fire Captain Dave Marques shouts orders to a fire team to attack a bamboo fire behind him. Marques had used a chain saw on a rear fence to gain access to the blaze. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Fire crackled through bamboo stands and threatened several residences in the 700 block of South Airport Way art about 11:30 a.m. Monday bringing firefighters from the City of Manteca and Lathrop-Manteca Fire to battle the blaze.

One trailer home some 200 feet back from the roadway was damaged by the burning bamboo that caught fire on the north side of the residence. Firemen aggressively fought the rapidly moving sheets of flames to keep the danger away from other small homes.

Heavy plumes of smoke could be seen as far away as Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue as the fire department put out a call for off-duty and reserve firefighters to respond as the fire was moving toward Fishback Road to the east.

Especially difficult was their gaining access to a threatened trailer home that was positioned in a circle of structures with burning bamboo growing closely behind it. The crackling of the fire in the bamboo stands sounded like firecrackers exploding.

Firemen drove one engine down a narrow access road to the homes tightly located in the rear off of Airport Way.  One strike team led by Captain David Marques cut a hole in a wooden fence with a chain saw to gain access to more bamboo that had caught fire as it spread eastward behind structures.

“The guys did a great job on the fire especially with protecting a home on Fishback Road,” Fire Chief Kirk Waters said of his department’s attack on the 10-acre blaze.

A second fire company had entered the burning grasses through a residential access on Fishback Road attacking the fire from the east where neighbors were seen operating a bucket brigade with water taken from a swimming pool.

“Firefighters deployed multiple hose lines (east of Airport Way) and brought the fire under control with a rapid response and aggressive fire ground operations before it could extend to the nearby residential structures,” said Battalion Chief Bob Davis.

Chief Waters said that one family of five living in the trailer home was displaced. He added that the Red Cross had offered them a place to stay, however they chose to go with friends. Waters said he recognized the family was in need and would take them a gift card to Walmart on Tuesday. The gift card is made possible through the Fire Chief’s Foundation.

Waters said that an investigation into the cause of the fire has questions for juveniles who were seen in the grasses just before the fire broke out nearer to the roadway.

The estimated loss to the building was set at $40,000 and contents at $10,000. There were a total of 18 personnel battling the fire. Firefighters were on the scene mopping up until almost 2 p.m. Reserve firefighters responded to the scene while full-time off-duty firemen responded from home to staff the vacated stations awaiting other emergency calls, the chief said.