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Massive Response Key To Knocking Down Fire
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Firefighters from Escalon get ready to do some mop up work after extinguishing the flames from a brush and grass fire in the 23000 block of Henry Road, off Santa Fe, on July 30. The Monday afternoon fire was sparked by a mowing operation.
Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello looks over the response board, indicating what departments and equipment he has on scene to assist with fighting a brush and grass fire along Henry Road on Monday, July 30. Marg Jackson/The Times

In what could have been a devastating fire, crews from two counties and multiple fire departments were able to quickly knock down flames that threatened two structures on Monday afternoon, July 30.

The fire was in the Escalon district, along Henry Road just off Santa Fe, close to the Stanislaus County Line.

Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said the fire was reported first as a vegetation fire just before 2 p.m., then was escalated into a vegetation fire with a structure possibly involved. Mello said once the call was updated to include the potential structure involvement, he asked for additional units.

Arriving on scene, he said crews found scrub brush involved and the fire was close to both a home and a shop, in the 23000 block of Henry Road, between Santa Fe Road and Lee Avenue. Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County both had units on scene, said Mello.

Some of the responding crews quickly set up for structure protection while others attacked the brush fire, which the chief said started due to a mowing operation. The riding mower was a total loss but there was no damage to the house or several vehicles parked outside. Damage to the nearby shop was restricted to minor scorching on one side, Mello said, covering just a small portion of one outside wall.

“This could have been very bad,” Mello said, but added that the wind was in firefighters’ favor, as was the tremendous response from neighboring departments.

The California Highway Patrol also responded and briefly shut down a portion of Henry Road between Lee Avenue and Santa Fe.

“It was hard work by the first group of guys on scene,” Mello added of the key to the firefighting effort and saving the buildings from being overtaken by the flames. “There was a fast rate of spread.”

The brush and grass fire scorched between three and four acres, Mello estimated, and there were three dozen firefighters involved in the effort.

Escalon had Engine 1-1, its brand new Brush 1-1 and Water Tender 1-1 on scene, with Farmington Fire Department responding with Water Tender 4-1. Stanislaus Consolidated had Engine 26, Battalion 2, Training 3, Engine 30 and Water Tender 27 on scene and manpower and equipment also responded from Ripon, Lathrop-Manteca, Stockton and Manteca fire departments.

“We’re very fortunate,” Mello said, noting that the call had the potential for a much more devastating outcome as well as keeping crews there for several hours. As it was, the majority of responders were able to clear the scene by shortly after 4 p.m.

There were no injuries reported.