A fire tore through two apartment buildings near the intersection of Parker Avenue and Carlton Way on Thursday afternoon, leaving several people homeless, including families with small children.
The two-alarm blaze destroyed a three-unit building at 229 W. Carlton Way and caused heavy damage to a two-story four-unit building at 1630 Parker Avenue.
Tracy Fire Department Division Chief Steve Hanlon reported that one of the residents of the Parker Avenue building was treated for smoke inhalation but declined a trip to the hospital. One firefighter was examined for fatigue and another was bitten by a dog when the crew went into one of the Parker Avenue units to rescue the animals. No other injuries were reported.
The fire started shortly after 3 p.m. in a backyard between the two buildings, possibly in a barbecue, but the source of the blaze could not be immediately confirmed. Hanlon said the cause is under investigation.
Myra Hernandez, who lives in the middle unit of the Carlton Way building, said she and two friends were having a Bible study when her husband told them that the fence between their building and the Parker Avenue building was on fire.
“The fence was right next to my window, and the fence fell and landed on my window,” she said, adding that the fire spread inside the building from there.
“We just made sure we were out and made sure the neighbor was not there, and she was out. The other neighbors, luckily they were checking up on each other,” she said.
Richard Trevino, who lives in an upstairs unit in the Parker Avenue building, was examined at the scene for smoke inhalation.
Trevino said his neighbor alerted him to the fire and he grabbed his fire extinguisher, went to his downstairs neighbor’s apartment, and tried to put out the blaze. When he went back upstairs to get his car keys he opened the door to his kitchen to find the room filled with smoke.
“I just paid my rent, my fiancé was going to move in with me and now I have nothing to go to,” he said.
Miguel Duarte, who lives on Parker Avenue next door to the four-unit apartments, said he saw the blaze when he went into his backyard to bring water to his dogs.
“All of that happened in the back, in the corner, like someone was burning paper,” he said, adding that another neighbor ran around to the front of the Parker Avenue apartments and knocked on the door of a downstairs unit, where a woman and her three young children were still inside.
The woman, who did not give her name, said her children – girls ages 6 and 5 and a 2-year-old son -- were in the house with her and were unaware of the fire at first.
“My kids were in the shower and when my dog started barking I checked in the back and the fire was already (burning),” she said. “If he didn’t bark I wouldn’t have known anything.”
Sharon Austin said she and her husband, Marcus, were walking by on the way to Parker Market, and also alerted the people in the Parker Avenue building when they saw the fire.
“We thought they were barbecuing at first,” Sharon said. “(Marcus) came back and knocked on the door and said ‘You need to get out!’”
Stevey Minor, property manager of the Parker Avenue apartments, said that another family from that building is displaced because of the fire and the fourth unit was vacant. Anthony Prejean, owner of the Carlton Way apartments, said all three of his units were rented.
Hanlon said the first alarm brought four engines and a ladder truck with 16 firefighters. The second alarm brought two more Tracy engine companies, a truck from Lathrop and another from the Defense Distribution Center on Chrisman Road, and 13 more firefighters.
He said the Red Cross will work with the property owners and families to find them temporary homes, and investigators still have to come up with a damage estimate.
Hernandez said she and her husband and 6-year-old son now have to find a new place.
“We’re waiting to see what Anthony (the property owner) says, and where we go from here,” she said.
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.