Two Atwater homes struck by fires

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 5, 2013 

— Cal Fire firefighters responded to two fires at homes in Atwater on Tuesday morning.

The first was reported at 7:41 a.m. at a home at 2308 Suncrest St. The home's occupant, a woman in her 60s, was inside watching her 3-year-old granddaughter, firefighters said.

A neighbor saw a large amount of smoke coming from the home and alerted the woman, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Ed Banks.

The woman and child escaped to a neighbor's house. Firefighters responded and contained the blaze by 9:05 a.m.

One firefighter was injured when the ceiling collapsed on him while he was inside the house. Banks said the firefighter's injuries did not appear to be serious. He was taken to a local hospital for observation and soon was released.

Investigators believe the blaze was sparked by a car in the garage. Fire officials said the point of origin appeared to have been an older model Ford Thunderbird.

Banks said the owner said she'd had problems starting the car not long before the fire.

Damage to the Suncrest structure was estimated to be at least $100,000. The home's occupant probably will receive housing assistance from family members, Banks said.

The other fire was reported about 10 a.m. at 713 Nicklaus Court in Atwater. The fire was caused by a water heater, Banks said.

A neighbor put out the small fire before firefighters arrived at the scene.

Sixteen firefighters, two city of Atwater engines, three Cal Fire engines and one rescue unit responded to the Suncrest fire.

About eight firefighters, three engines and a battalion chief responded to the Nicklaus fire.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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