Flames destroy Modesto home

Three families lost their homes Saturday morning when a fire destroyed a house and damaged a duplex in Modesto's airport neighborhood.

None of the 18 displaced people were injured, said Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Dan Hinshaw. The Red Cross is helping them find emergency housing, he said.

"There were a lot of cold little kids out there in blankets," Hinshaw said.

The fire was reported at 6:01 a.m. after having started in a one-story house in the 600 block of Empire Avenue. The home was destroyed. The fire quickly spread to a two-story duplex on Larkin Avenue, Hinshaw said, and ignited a vehicle and debris in a yard.

"It was rockin'," Hinshaw said. "Our guys could see it from our station at the airport" a few blocks away.

Twenty-five firefighters from six engines and two trucks saved a third house threatened by flames. The fire was controlled by 6:34 a.m.

The fire did not spread to one side of the duplex, but its occupants had to leave because electricity to both sides was disconnected.

The fire's cause remains under investigation.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at or 578-2390.