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Thursday Blaze Guts Shop, Home
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Flames and smoke pour out of a two-story shop and attached home on East Mahon Avenue in Escalon, scene of a multi-alarm fire on Thursday, May 22. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

A fast-moving early afternoon fire at a home and shop in the 25000 block of East Mahon Avenue on May 22 caused extensive damage and gutted both buildings.

Fire crews got the call around 12:15 p.m., with fire at first appearing to be primarily in the tree tops of a row of trees surrounding the Jack Thomas property at 25626 East Mahon. Firefighters had almost succeeded in knocking down those flames when fire erupted out the upstairs windows of the two-story shop building.

Thomas, who said he had lived there for almost 60 years, noted that he had a variety of car parts, tools and equipment in the shop.

“My first fire,” he said as he watched crews arrive to battle the stubborn blaze.

Along with Escalon, departments responding to the scene to assist included Farmington, Collegeville, Stanislaus Consolidated, Oakdale Rural and Ripon, many bringing additional water because there are no hydrants there.

“It’s all kind of one big thing,” Thomas said of the shop and attached home. “As long as it didn’t get to the neighbors’ houses, I’m okay.”

Retired from the old Petri Winery, Thomas said in December he will have lived on the property for 60 years but now will have to do some ‘downsizing’ and look toward rebuilding.

Fire officials said the bulk of the attack on the buildings had to be done from the outside because of the danger of collapse inside.

Also joining in the effort, standing on the roof of a home next door and watering down the trees with a garden hose was Dairy Solutions, Inc. employee Robert Gutierrez out of Tulare. He and a co-worker were driving in the area and saw the smoke, joining in to help out wherever they could. Neighbors also helped get some vehicles out of the shop before it was fully involved in flames.

The firefighting effort took several hours. Thomas declined assistance from the Red Cross, noting he had other options for temporary housing.