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Nut Company Fire Operations Expected to be Lengthy

Carlos Rodriguez

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MODESTO – A massive fire that tore through two warehouses and several tons of nut product was expected to keep firefighters busy overnight and into Monday.

The fire was dispatched at about 1:30pm near the intersection of River Road and Bunker Avenue. With the fire being an unknown type, initially a single Ceres Fire engine was dispatched. Officials at the scene say employees at the Pepsi facility called in the fire.

Arriving firefighters encountered major smoke and flame from behind a warehouse on Bunker Avenue, calling for a commercial structure fire response. Additional resources in downtown Ceres observed heavy smoke conditions from the fire, and soon more resources were called to the scene. In total, three alarms were called on the fire.

The fire was consuming about 1,000 tons of nut product according to Bret Presson, a Battalion Chief with the Ceres Fire Department. The fire had begun to extend into the warehouse and office building which it would eventually also destroy. Several crates and trailers were also destroyed.

The flames were extending so much that it also caught the roof of a neighboring beverage company warehouse on fire. The fire caused a lighting fixture to collapse into the building, scrambling firefighters to prevent any further damage there.

Resources county wide were drained during the firefight. Presson said a total of 19 engines, 4 trucks and 4 water tenders responded to battle the blaze. San Joaquin County sent a strike team of firefighters to cover additional calls within Stanislaus County while crews were tied up on Bunker Avenue.

The City of Modesto sent a backhoe and front loader to assist fire crews. Presson explained that the incident was a challenge in the fact that the nut product had to be separated and drowned to be properly extinguished, similar to a hay fire. Utility companies also were called to respond to secure gas and electricity.

Eight chief officers and a Modesto training officer responded due to the complexity of the fire. One firefighter suffered a heat related illness and was transported to a hospital. Presson said he was treated and released shortly after and sent home to recover.

Firefighters were expected to remain at the scene overnight and into Monday to continue extinguishing flames, which at 10:00pm were still visible. Smoke continued to drift south into Ceres.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Carlos Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist specializing in public safety and natural disasters. His passion for local news stems from a deep commitment to his community, with a selfless mission to inform the citizens of the valley. As he worked on assignment for 19 days at the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he spent most of his time helping survivors contact their loved ones to let them know they were ok. Carlos is a veteran of Univision, FOX, and Telemundo TV stations and a native of Modesto, California.

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Passengers Walk Away From Plane Crash in Lodi

Gaby Muro

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Photo: San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office

LODI – Two passengers of an airplane that crashed during a training flight walked away without injuries Wednesday afternoon.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office received calls to their dispatch center at about 12:30pm reporting the plane crash. The incident happened near the 16000 block of North Fox Road in Lodi.

Authorities said a Cessna 150 with two occupants took off from Lodi Wednesday morning and were headed to the Linden area for training. At about 3,000 feet the plane began experiencing mechanical issues, resulting in a hard landing.

Authorities say the investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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High School Teacher Arrested

Gaby Muro

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MODESTO – A high school teacher was arrested Monday after a police investigation revealed he had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Patrick Mester was charged with annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18. He was arrested by Modesto Police Special Victims Unit Detectives.

Mester was employed with the Modesto City Schools District since the 2003-2004 school year. He taught music and band at Enochs High School since the 2007-2008 school year.

Mester’s ability to visit school grounds and have contact with students was revoked by the district, authorities said.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding this case to contact Detective Garza at garzaj@modestopd.com or (209) 572-9564.

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Police Investigate Early Evening Shooting

Gaby Muro

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STOCKTON – Two victims with gunshot wounds arrived at a local hospital early Monday evening prompting an investigation.

At about 7:30pm, authorities received a report of gunfire on the 300 block of East Oak Street, between North San Joaquin and North Sutter Streets. Early indications suggest the victims arrived by private vehicle at a hospital.

Shortly before 8:00pm, a report was made of another victim arriving at a hospital.

Police responded to the area to gather evidence and investigate. No further details were available at time of publication.

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