Fire at Modesto auto yard under investigation

About 10 cars caught fire this morning at a Crows Landing Road wrecking yard, authorities said.

The Modesto Fire Department received a call of a fire at Farriester Auto Wrecking at 6:20 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they found the cars on fire.

Because of difficult access, they ran a hose 400 feet to the fire through a fence, and extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes, according to Battalion Chief Dan Hinshaw of the Modesto Fire Department.

No injuries were reported. The business was closed, Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw suspects arson, but cautioned that the incident is still under investigation.

Mark Farriester, manager at the business, believes it was purposely set.

“You can’t count how many times something like this has happened, and it’s getting worse,” Farriester said. “My guess is someone is out there stealing and something caught fire.”

The frustrated Farriester called the area from the Seventh Street Bridge and south to the Highway 99 overpass the “Bermuda Triangle.”

Farriester was referring to what he thought were the likely suspects: people looking for something to steal and resell for drugs.

He said his company buys wrecked cars, sells the parts until there’s little left, then crushes them.

He wondered if someone wasn’t in the yard trying to steal something, began smoking something and caught the interior of one of the cars on fire.

He estimated the financial loss of the 10 cars, including another five nearby that were damaged, at $25,000.

Sixteen firefighters, using four engines and a truck, tended to the blaze. The Westport Fire District also assisted with a water tender.

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