Investigators are trying to determine what caused a fire that destroyed the contents inside a vacant home in Atwater Wednesday.
Atwater Fire Battalion Chief Justin Wight said crews responded to reports of a fire with someone possibly trapped inside at about 3 p.m Wednesday at a home on Giannini Road between Sugarplum Drive and Country Court.
Atwater firefighters arrived four to five minutes later to find a fire fully involved with the single-story structure, which was surrounded by several acres of open field, Wight said. Two more fire engines responded and contained the fire within 40 minutes.
After primary and secondary searches, first responders determined there was no one inside the structure, Wight said.
Atwater police reported that officers spoke with a person who escaped the fire. But Wight said he couldn’t confirm there was anyone near the structure, pending the fire investigation.
The cause of the fire was under investigation Wednesday afternoon. But Wight said fire prevention officers were on their way to conduct a thorough investigation of the home.
“The home has been vacant for about 10 years,” said Gwendolyn Wall, co-owner of the home and 4.6-acre lot it sits on. Wall arrived at the home after the fire was put out.
“I’m just glad nobody was inside,” Wall said, noting that the home was vacant for more than 10 years and part of the property she and her brother are trying to sell.
Wall said it was her childhood home. It was also where she and her sisters helped take care of her mother when they were older.
“This is where we grew up,” she said. “This is all that I knew.”
Merced Sun-Star reporter Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562