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Fire destroys mobile homes

ATWATER -- Two old motor homes went up in flames Sunday afternoon near here in a fire of undetermined origin. The blaze also consumed an acre of dry grass but was prevented from damaging nearby businesses and a storage yard.

Walter Garrett, an engineer with CalFire/Merced County Fire Department, said the motor homes at 3430 N. Buhach Road were fully engulfed in flames when firefighting units arrived. It took trucks from Castle AFB, Winton, Merced and Gurr Road stations about an hour to extinguish the blaze.

Garrett said the cause of the 3:19 p.m. fire is under investigation.

Property owner Leslie Zambelli of Merced praised firefighters' quick response.

"These guys were wonderful; they were the best, fast and efficient," Zambelli said.

She said the larger of two motor homes destroyed in the fire belonged to a man who died two weeks ago. The motor home was being stored for him and its value is unknown.

Zambelli said she got a phone call about the fire on her property and panicked, thinking everything was on fire. She was worried about nearby houses and dangers to firemen.

No injuries were reported in Sunday's fire.

Garrett said motorhomes and trailers "go up really fast" and the ones involved Sunday were no exception. All that remained of the motor homes was the framing, the chassis and other metal parts. The storage yard contained several vintage vehicles, including a 1959 Mercury, 1954 Chevrolet four-door sedan and a 1958 Chevy pickup.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or">