Update: Cooking likely started brush fire in Modesto

Update: A vegetation fire that injured one person in Modesto’s airport district Monday likely began as a cooking fire started by someone in a homeless encampment set up along the Tuolumne River, a fire official said.

Modesto Deputy Chief Darin Jesberg said the fire grew to 53 acres. One person, who was injured badly enough to be airlifted to a burn center, was likely in the encampment area.

Original: Firefighters from across Stanislaus County are battling vegetation fire that has injured at least one person Monday afternoon.

The fire, near the intersection of Mariposa and Finch roads in south Modesto’s airport neighborhood, stood at 10 to 15 acres and was being driven by wind, authorities said at 4 pm

One person was injured in the fire and was airlifted to a burn center, authorities at the scene said. The victim, an adult male, was a civilian, not a firefighter. No further information about the man and his condition was immediately available.

The drone was used to survey the area. No structures were immediately threatened, according to Modesto Deputy Chief Darin Jesberg. There are some homes to the east of the fire, but firefighters were working to keep them safe, he said.

Departments helping fight the blaze included Modesto, Ceres, Denair, Woodland and Hughson, Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst said at the incident command center set up at the scene. He said the response included 11 engine companies and five chief officers, though it looked like more equipment was arriving.

Ernst said the fire was burning between Finch Road to the north and the Tuolumne River to the south. The objective, he said, was to keep it from jumping the river. Units were on the south side of the river, watching for embers. Other units were to the east, to hold off the fire from homes and other structures.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

We will have more on this story later today.

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Firefighters from across Stanislaus County battle a vegetation fire near Modesto’s airport neighborhood on Monday afternoon, May 2, 2022. Deke Farrow jfarrow@modbee.com

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A firefighter extinguishes hot spots at vegetation fire near Modesto’s airport neighborhood on Monday afternoon, May 2, 2022. Deke Farrow jfarrow@modbee.com

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Firefighters from across Stanislaus County battle a vegetation fire near Modesto’s airport neighborhood on Monday afternoon, May 2, 2022. Deke Farrow jfarrow@modbee.com

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Firefighters from across Stanislaus County battle a vegetation fire near Modesto’s airport neighborhood on Monday afternoon, May 2, 2022. Deke Farrow

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Firefighters from across Stanislaus County battle a vegetation fire near Modesto’s airport neighborhood on Monday afternoon, May 2, 2022. Deke Farrow

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Firefighters from across Stanislaus County are battling vegetation fire in Modesto’s airport district Monday afternoon. May 2, 2022 Deke Farrow jfarrow@modbee.com

This story was originally published May 2, 2022 4:39 PM.

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Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.

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