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Vacant house goes up in flames
Squatters escape blaze unharmed
fire truck

An early morning fire left a Turlock home completely destroyed, but the two people living at the residence escaped unharmed.

The home at 120 West F St. in Turlock went up in flames shortly before 3 a.m. Friday. The home had been up for sale for some time and had sat vacant for several years before two squatters took up residence inside it about a year ago, said Turlock Fire Department Battalion Chief Gary Carlson.

The fire was reported at 3:24 a.m. and Carlson said he was the first to arrive four minutes later.

“The entire front of the house was engulfed in flames,” Carlson said. “There was nothing survivable in there at that point.”

The two people who had been squatting at the home told fire fighters they were the only ones at the residence and that they had gotten out unharmed before the flames grew in size and intensity.

There were no utilities connected to the house and it’s suspected the blaze ignited from some type of space heater used to keep warm, Carlson said. The exact cause is still under investigation by county fire officials.

The estimated loss of the property was around $70,000 to $80,000.

Four fire engines responded to the fire, as well as a battalion chief, the fire marshal and the fire chief for a total of 15 personnel on scene. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes and crews remained on scene for three hours assisting with overhaul and cleanup.

The Turlock Rural Fire Department provided city coverage during the incident.