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Fire destroys old Crom home
Pickup truck triggers blaze; cattle unscathed
Bulletin FireCrom 2
The fire that destroyed the old Crom farmhouse on the corner of Airport Way and Crom Street started in this white pickup truck parked in a makeshift open garage. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin Correspondent

Fire destroyed the small farm house located on what was left of the old Crom ranch on the southwest corner of South Airport Way and Crom Street on the western edge of Manteca’s municipal golf course.

Brett Clinton, who lived in the house, said the fire started in his Ford 150 pickup truck parked in a covered makeshift garage on the south side of the house. He and his friend Tim Wetzel who were chatting inside the house noticed the fire at about 6 p.m. on Sunday. Wetzel, a former longtime Manteca resident who now lives in Lake Havasu in Arizona had arrived at his friend’s house barely an hour before the fire broke out.

The pickup was a total loss. Clinton was also unable to bring out of the house his 1995 Harley Davidson motorcycle. Fire personnel pulled the badly damaged Harley outside to the front lawn only after the fire was fully contained. Clinton said he has owned the motorcycle since his father passed away.

Damage was limited to the house. Left unscathed were the barn, the few cattle still remaining on the property owned by Chris Crom, the bales of hay and other ranch equipment. That was largely due to the fact firefighters with the City of Manteca from the Del Webb Station at Lathrop Road were immediately at the scene. Four city fire trucks and one from the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District with more than two-dozen fire personnel responded to the emergency. Also present at the scene were Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters along with two battalion chiefs Dave Marques and Bill Canfield. Canfield, who was off duty, was called in to cover for Marques while the latter was overseeing the fight against the structure fire.

Clinton said he had been renting the house for about 12 years from Crom who moved to another property in Manteca. However, the renter said Crom still owns and operates the ranch that includes several cattle. The ranch, at one time, included land that is now the Manteca Municipal Golf Course. Crom Avenue which runs between Union Road and Airport Way was named after the family.

Clinton, who works at Western Mining Services in Ceres, said he was served eviction notice just the day before but did not elaborate.

“I’m looking for a house for rent right now,” said a visibly frustrated Clinton while his friend, Wetzel, used his Smartphone to videotape the firefighters battling the fire.

Making sure the firefighters did not get overheated on the job while fighting the fire in the sweltering summer heat were SAFE volunteers Richard Silverman, a member of the Manteca City Council, and Bob Pfirman. The members of the non-profit Seniors Assisting Fire Effort brought in one large and two smaller ice chests filled with dozens of bottled water. As a precautionary measure, a Manteca Ambulance unit was also at the scene as they do at every fire emergency “in case someone gets hurt.”