Fire Chief: Homeless Encampment to Blame for Fire in Lathrop

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LATHROP -- Frightening moments on Tuesday morning for Lathrop neighbors as a large plume of black smoke filled the air after a Union Pacific train trestle was set on fire.

The chief with the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District told FOX40 someone living at a homeless encampment may have ignited the flames. The fire also damaged a part of a train trestle which is used daily by Union Pacific and commuter trains.

A huge column of black, thick smoke filled the Lathrop air in exclusive cell phone video a viewer sent FOX40. It prompted a bunny in the video to seek shelter and startled neighbors Chris and Sharon Moses.

“It was so thick that at one point it was blocking out the sun from our house,” Chris Moses said.

Sharon even snapped a photo of the smoke from their backyard.

Lathrop-Manteca Fire District Chief Gene Neely said they first got the call to check some smoke out on Stewart Road around 9 a.m. Tuesday. The flames quickly spread to the trestle.

“The flames were huge. The oil soaked timbers put out a large black column of smoke and potentially toxic,” Chief Neely said. The chief believes someone living in this homeless encampment is to blame.

It took hours to completely put out all the hot spots. Neighbors are grateful the flames did not get out of hand.

“More relieved. They responded very quickly so that’s very reassuring,” Sharon Moses said.

Union Pacific told FOX40 that it’s too early to tell the extent of the damage done. Luckily for commuters, this fire will not impact the H train that goes from Lathrop to the Bay Area.

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