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Structures Threatened In Monday Afternoon Fire
Mower fire pix.jpg
Mowing in the afternoon heat proved to be a bad decision, as it sparked a fire that burned some three acres of brush and dry grass along Henry Road, off Santa Fe on Monday afternoon, July 30. Marg Jackson/The News

Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District crews were among those responding to a vegetation fire in Escalon just across the county line from Riverbank on Monday afternoon, July 30.

Authorities 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. The call in the 23000 block of Henry Road, just off Santa Fe, was in San Joaquin County but several Stanislaus County crews were called in to assist.

Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Rick 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.

Some crews quickly set up for structure protection while others attacked the brush fire, which he 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,” the chief pointed out.

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.

Stanislaus Consolidated Engine 26, Battalion 2, Training 3, Engine 20 and Water Tender 27 were among the local agencies responding, along with other Stanislaus and San Joaquin County units.

“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.