A well-known local care home, Magnolia Ranch, had extensive fire damage to a garage and adjoining apartment, but escaped with relatively minor smoke damage to the main facility. However, electricity was knocked out to the entire property in the 25000 block of Magnolia Avenue in Escalon in the fire on Wednesday, Dec. 28 and the facility will need some repairs.
Escalon Fire Department Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro said there were no injuries in the fire, which occurred about 8:30 on Wednesday morning.
“We’re calling the cause undetermined at this time,” Pinheiro said, after returning to the location to continue the investigation on Tuesday.
It’s possible the cause was electrical, he said, though that hasn’t been officially confirmed. There was nothing suspicious about the fire, he added.
The blaze appears to have started underneath an apartment built off the garage and Pinheiro said fire crews were able to quickly knock down the flames once they arrived on scene. The apartment and garage did have some damage.
More importantly, said Pinheiro, there were no injuries and the six elderly occupants of the residential care home were evacuated safely. Local resident Ray Caparros oversees the Magnolia Ranch facility.
“It was a very cold morning,” Pinheiro added of the Dec. 28 incident. “Escalon Community Ambulance took the lead on getting the residents to safety; they were taken to the ambulance station on Ullrey.”
Many were in wheelchairs or needed extra assistance but were cared for at the ambulance station both by ECA staff and workers from the facility until they could be relocated to other care homes on a temporary basis.
Don Briggs, who serves as a San Joaquin County ombudsman for the elderly, said the Magnolia Ranch staff did “an incredible job” of caring for their residents, staying with them and comforting them during the incident. He also praised the efforts of local emergency services personnel in responding quickly and making sure all residents were taken care of until they could made additional arrangements for housing.
“Between the county and the state, all were relocated by the end of the day,” Pinheiro added of the residents. “It worked out as good as it could have.”
No timetable has been set for the reopening of the Magnolia Ranch, added Pinheiro, with electrical work and cleaning work still to be done.
Briggs said the situation was upsetting to the clients, who were rousted from their home, but he agreed that the Magnolia Ranch staff and emergency responders did all they could to calm fears and provide the best possible resolution to the situation.
Escalon called for mutual aid at the scene and also had one department stand in at their station while the fire suppression and clean up effort was conducted.