Fire investigators are shoveling through the charred remains of 1100 Kansas Avenue, trying to determine where the fire that destroyed the building early this morning started.
No one was injured in the blaze. The 19-year-old office building was home to three businesses, including the Stanislaus County Arts Council.
A 911 caller on a cell phone reported the blaze at 3:50 a.m., said Modesto fire battalion chief Sean Slamon. Firefighters arrived at 3:56 a.m. and found the 5,500 square-foot building engulfed in flame.
Firefighters at first battled the blaze inside the building, then retreated to fight flames from the outside when the roof started to collapse, Slamon said. Heat forced the steel roof outward, then dissolved it. Firefighters had the two-alarm fire under control at 5:08 a.m. Five engines and 22 firefighters ultimately responded to the blaze.
A second smaller building that’s part of the same complex was undamaged.
At 10 a.m. firefighters were sifting through wreckage to salvage computers and other valuables for business owners. Besides the Art Council, the building housed Nirvana, an addiction treatment business, and Cal Central Catering Trailers, which sells parts for taco trucks.
Miguel Prado, a manager of Cal Central Catering, stood outside the blackened wood shingle building taking photos of the damage.
"It's upsetting that we invested so much money in there," Prado said.
The catering business employs six people. Everything at the business was destroyed except for some computers that firefighters managed to save, Prado said.
Building co-owners Dennis and Chet Cummins said the building was built in 1990.
Chet Cummins estimated that the structure was worth about $600,000.
"We're lucky that no one was hurt, that's the main thing," Dennis Cummins said. "You can replace the building."
The building replaced an office complex destroyed by a 1990 arson fire, Chet Cummins said.
Authorities caught the man who started that fire. The arsonist was sentenced to eight years in prison, Cummins recalled.
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