One man was injured and three families were left without shelter when a fire Friday afternoon gutted a home in the 600 block of Empire Avenue in southeast Modesto.
Marcus Naylor, 27, sustained superficial burns to an elbow when he tried to rescue a dog and three puppies trapped by the fire. The canines died in the blaze that started at 1:15 p.m. in the airport neighborhood, authorities said.
Seven adults and nine children were living in the rental home. Except for Naylor, who was taken to a hospital for treatment, all of the people at home when the fire started got out safely. The cause was under investigation.
Modesto firefighters arrived at the scene at 1:23 p.m., finding flames and smoke pouring from the windows, said Battalion Chief Hugo Patino. The fire was contained by 1:32 p.m.
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Naylor was injured as he tried to rescue the dogs from a wash room. He told authorities that, as he opened an outside door to the room, he was hit with a blast of heat and was unable to get the dogs out. He also suffered smoke inhalation.
Modesto police were pursuing leads that the fire possibly resulted from a domestic dispute.
Patino said the occupants of the home were referred to the Red Cross for assistance.