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Escalon Fire Crews Respond To Pair Of Damaging Blazes
Fire 1 pix
Multiple fire companies responded to Mondays grocery/deli fire at Rossettis Corner at the intersection of Escalon-Bellota and Lone Tree roads in Escalon. Here, Escalon crews on scene assess the situation; officials said there were minor problems with traffic and onlookers at the scene. Glenn Kahl/The Times

A multi-alarm fire in Escalon early Monday afternoon caused extensive damage to a well-known business, the blaze breaking out at Rossetti’s Corner/Michael’s Deli at the intersection of Escalon-Bellota and Lone Tree roads.

“We received a call of a structure fire at around 12:30 p.m.,” said Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello.

Mutual aid was requested from Ripon and Farmington as firefighters made their way to the scene, Mello added.

“When we arrived, there was smoke showing only, mostly from the front façade of the building,” he explained. “Using our thermal imaging camera, we were able to determine the fire originated in the front of the building, we got a crew on the roof for venting and a crew inside, we called for an additional engine from Collegeville and an engine from Stanislaus Consolidated.”

The attic fire apparently had been smoldering for hours, said Mello, and an employee arriving on scene called in because of the heavy smoke smell.

Also called in was a water tender from Lathrop-Manteca to assist at the scene.

“The engine from Stanislaus Consolidated actually provided coverage at our station,” Mello said.

A county fire investigator was called to the scene and Mello said it appeared that the fire was electrical in nature, as there was damage to wiring.

At the height of the firefighting effort, with multiple units on scene, Escalon Police Department had several officers deployed to assist with traffic control. A motorist also contacted officers because she was having chest pains, and Escalon Community Ambulance responded to the scene.

Mello said because the Rossetti’s Corner/Michael’s Deli is a well-known local business, there were plenty of onlookers during the firefighting effort.

“The structural damage was confined to the front of the store but they will definitely have some down time due to damage and loss of product,” the chief said. “We finally cleared the scene around 4:30 p.m.; we had 17 personnel on scene with five engines and two water tenders.”

Also during the fire response, motorists reported a train stopped, blocking the tracks at the Highway 120 intersection just west of the Escalon Avenue-McHenry intersection, with reports of traffic delayed for nearly an hour.

“That is always a concern and it seems to be happening with more regularity,” Mello said of trains blocks the tracks in that area. He said the police department is also keeping tabs on the situation and authorities will likely be getting in touch with the railroad to determine how to resolve the issue at the busy corridor.

In this case, Mello said, the train blocking the tracks did not hamper fire crews from responding but there is always the danger that it could impact a future fire event.

Also, it was the second major fire for the department during the day on March 26. An early morning fire on McHenry Avenue, at a home adjacent to the Creative Water Gardens business, was extensively damaged.

“They have a small house on the property and the person reporting the fire was alerted to it by the Chihuahuas,” Mello said.

Shortly after the dogs alerted the resident, the smoke detector went off. There were no reports of injuries.

“That cause appeared to be electrical as well, it started in a panel outside the garage and the garage and a vehicle were a complete loss,” explained Mello. “Our guys were able to do a lot of good salvage work inside and saved a lot of the belongings but there was major damage to the home.”

That call came in about 2 a.m. and crews cleared that scene about 5 a.m., with Salida sending an engine, Ripon bringing a water tender and a Farmington engine providing coverage at the Escalon fire station.