Modesto fire displaces four families

Four families are looking for shelter after a fire broke out in a garage and spread to the first of four side-by-side apartments Sunday night on Floyd Avenue.

All the residents got out safely without injury, but the electrical and gas lines were severely damaged, which could leave the four-plex uninhabitable for months, according to Dan Hinshaw, battalion chief for the Modesto Fire Department.

Fire crews were called to the scene at 7:17 p.m. on Sunday after a report of a fire that began in one of four two-car garages of the property just east of McHenry Avenue.

Firefighters heading to a nighttime training drill were routed to the call, which included a report of somebody being trapped inside.

Crews quickly checked and found that all of the fourplex’s 10 residents, including two children, were outside.

They worked quickly to put a ventilation hole into the roof and ceiling of the first apartment, and pulled back insulation from the shared attic so that flames didn’t spread into the remaining three apartments.

The cause of the fire, which was contained in 15 minutes and caused an estimated $125,000 in damage, remains under investigation.

Hinshaw said it began near the rear of a car that had been pushed into one of the four garages earlier in the day after its owner was unable to jump-start it. Near the back of the vehicle were a couple of couches.

Running through the garages were gas and electrical lines. Modesto Irrigation District was forced to pull the meters, and Pacific Gas & Electrical Co. had to shut off the natural gas line because of the damage, Hinshaw said.

He said replacing that equipment, and going through the city inspection process, could leave the residents out of their apartment for possibly six months.

Red Cross of Stanislaus County helped in finding housing for the families, and the management company overseeing the complex for its Bay Area owner were extremely helpful, Hinshaw said.

Five engines and two trucks, for a total of 23 fire personnel, worked the fire, Hinshaw said.

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