Two Merced County fires break out; no one hurt

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comJune 16, 2013 

Firefighters responded to two separate structure fires Thursday morning in Merced County.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

The first fire was reported at 3:12 a.m. at the Broadway Apartments, 778 Broadway Ave. in Atwater, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Gabriel Santos said.

The cause was an open flame, which ignited some furniture in a vacant utility room, according to Santos.

The first firefighters at the scene reported heavy smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the two-story apartment complex.

All three apartment units were safely evacuated and in about 10 minutes, the fire was contained to the single room where it started. It caused moderate fire damage and smoke damage in one of the units, according to Santos.

Twelve firefighters and one chief responded, along with two Atwater Fire Department-Cal Fire engines, and two Merced County Fire Department-Cal Fire engines.

Many apartment occupants were displaced because of severe electrical damage to the building. A total of three families, which included eight adults and seven children, were provided temporary housing by the American Red Cross, according to Santos.

The other blaze was a house fire at 1565 Merced Ave., not far from Motel Drive, the Merced Fire Department reported.

Firefighters responded to the vacant home around 9:20 a.m. and contained the blaze by 9:45 a.m., according to Battalion Chief Shawn Henry.

When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming from windows, and the fire rapidly moving from the back of the house toward the front.

The cause remains under investigation. The home was vacant, and had been undergoing renovations after damage caused by another fire, Henry said.

No surrounding homes were damaged.

Thirteen firefighters, a battalion chief, three engines and one truck responded to the Merced fire.

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

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