Fire causes $3 million in damage to North Merced home

Jan and R.J. Lorenzi sat in front of their house Monday evening and watched as more than 35 Merced city and county firefighters attempted to salvage anything from a blazing inferno that engulfed their house on Country Club Place. Sixteen fire vehicles responded.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze, which was reported about 4 p.m., within three hours. The house, which is more than 5,000 square feet, had estimated damage of about $3 million, said Kevin Smith, acting division chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The cause and area of origin of the fire are under investigation, Smith said. Because the house had a wood shingle roof, the fire spread rapidly throughout the structure, he said.

Because of the lack of fire hydrants in the area, firefighters had to draw water from the home’s pool.

R.J. Lorenzi said he received a call from his alarm company, notifying him of a possible fire in his house. An engine was sent to investigate and he was informed his house was burning.

“There is no way to replace some of that stuff,” Lorenzi said. “A lot of it was one of a kind, that’s the travesty. There were a lot of little things, a lot of memories.”

He said he had owned the house for the past nine years, and had lived there for seven.

Lorenzi said his house was designed by “the ultimate California designer,” Michael Taylor, who since has died.

The Lorezis said their house was insured, and hope that it will be covered.

“Merced is my home,” Lorenzi said. “We just have to face this and rebuild.”

No one was home when the fire started and there were no injuries.

Reporter Samuel Cosby can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or scosby@mercedsun-star.com.