A fast-moving house fire broke out in south Modesto early today, destroying one home and damaging two others.
According to Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Dan Hinshaw, several calls started coming in at about 3 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find the house in the 1700 block of Coventry Garden Way ablaze.
"The term 'fully involved' gets used a lot, but it doesn't really depict what's happening," Hinshaw said. "Tonight it was an accurate portrayal. Flames were shooting out of every window of the house."
Nobody was living in the house. The owner, who lives around the corner, told firefighters she had rented out rooms but the tenants were moving out.
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It took firefighters 30 minutes to bring the fire under control. Damage is estimated at $200,000.
Houses on both sides also sustained damage.
"Fortunately, the houses downwind had noncombustible roofing," Hinshaw said. "We had embers landing on houses down the street; it was rainingout there."
A fire investigator is on the scene this morning.
"It's pretty suspicious," Hinshaw said, adding that the fire appeared to start "all over the place."
"I've gone to a lot of fires. I've never seen anything like this. The ashes we're shoveling out are little teeny pieces; they look like fireplace ashes. It was a very intense, hot fire."
Also, Hinshaw said firefighters battled a brush fire along Neece Drive across from John Thurman Field on Friday evening. The fire burned about an acre.
The Modesto Nuts minor-league baseball team, which plays at Thurman Field, was on the road at Bakersfield. The team plays at home tonight.
View House badly damaged by fire in a larger map