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Tree branch injures firefighter extinguishing backyard blaze
turlock fire truck
According to Interim Fire Chief Michael Botto, the fire department is lacking in countless key areas, including its fleet and facilities and staffing (Journal file photo).

A Turlock firefighter sustained a minor injury when a tree branch fell on his head while fighting a fire in a backyard.

The firefighter was wearing a helmet. He was treated at the scene, taken to the hospital for evaluation and returned to duty later that day, said Turlock Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kevin Tidwell.

The fire was reported shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday in the 800 block of Fifth Street.

The fire was initially reported as a debris fire and as crews were enroute they could see a large column of smoke rising from the scene. The call was upgraded to a working structure fire and four additional engines were sent to the scene.

The first firefighters to arrive found a large fire burning in the backyard that was spreading to some structures in the yard and threatening the homes of neighboring residences.

"Firefighters had to make access from both Emily Street and Fifth Street due to access issues and were able contain the fire in approximately 15 minutes," Tidwell said.

The fire destroyed one metal shed and caused significant damage to another outbuilding.

"Due to the quick and aggressive fire attack by firefighters, the surrounding residences were saved with only two of those homes sustaining minor heat damage," Tidwell said.

No citizens were injured in the fire.

The Turlock Fire Department responded initially with two engines, Squad 32, a battalion chief and Engine 34 responding from Ceres, due to the fact they were on a cover assignment for the City of Ceres. Ceres Fire Department responded to the incident with two engines, one quint and a battalion chief, along with one engine from the Modesto Fire Department, as part of the Resource Sharing Agreement.

The location of the fire occurred within the city of Turlock but also incorporated portions of an island of Stanislaus County. Turlock Rural Fire Protection District and the Stanislaus County Fire Investigation Unit responded out to the scene to assist the Turlock Fire Department’s Fire Marshal with the fire investigation.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Anyone with information about the fire can contact the Stanislaus County Fire Investigation Unit at 209-525-5537.