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Vegetation Fire Prompts 12-Agency Response
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Personnel and equipment from a dozen agencies worked to extinguish a stubborn fire in heavy vegetation along Santa Fe Road at Hall Avenue in Escalon at midafternoon Friday, July 3. The fire blackened between three and four acres, officials said. Modesto Fire Department Photo

A mid-afternoon smoky fire along Santa Fe Road near Hall Avenue outside Escalon on Friday, July 3 sent thick, black billowing smoke throughout the region and required multiple agencies to respond to the scene.

Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said the call came in around 2:30 p.m. and originally came in as a vegetation fire in the 22000 block of Santa Fe.

“Then it was upgraded to a vegetation fire with structures involved and people evacuating,” the chief said. “Then it was revised again to a vegetation fire with structures threatened.”

Because of the dense growth in the area, it was difficult to determine exactly what was burning until crews could get in to the scene.

“It consumed about three to four acres,” Mello explained. “We did end up with one small outbuilding destroyed, it threatened some other structures, some homes, and there was one RV damaged.”

Several parked vehicles in the area were also threatened but crews were able to work to keep the fire away from the nearby structures and the majority of the vehicles.

“It originated on the southwest side, behind a structure on Santa Fe,” Mello said Monday, with no official cause listed as a of press time.

“We had 12 total agencies responding with 16 apparatus including command vehicles and 32 total personnel,” Mello said.

The call was on Santa Fe, with a cross of Hall, and Mello said where the fire was situated, crews had to get through a number of dead trees, both those still standing and those on the ground.

“It took a lot of work,” he said.

Escalon Fire Department was first on scene and also responding, with a variety of equipment including water tenders and engines, were Ripon, Farmington, Collegeville, Stanislaus Consolidated, Manteca, Lathrop-Manteca, Modesto, Salida, Montezuma, Mountain House and French Camp. Modesto also sent an engine to stand in at the Escalon station.

“We knew we’d need manpower,” Mello said of the major response. “It was windy, but not as hot as it has been, thankfully.”

The last crews cleared the scene about 7:30 p.m. Friday, accounting for a roughly five-hour operation.