Friday, March 6, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Suspicious fire scorches Opportunity House supply container

Fire

Erik Hamilton helps move fire damaged goods at the Opportunity House Thrift store on Peabody Road in Vacaville, Saturday. Firefighters responded to an early morning fire of burning pallets next to two storage units that housed goods for the Opportunity House shelter. The cause of the fire is unknown. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic)

By
From page A4 | February 16, 2014 |

VACAVILLE — An early morning blaze scorched a storage container behind the Opportunity House Thrift Store Saturday.

The fire destroyed the contents of the steel shipping container, leaving the Opportunity House shelter without essential paper goods, such as toilet paper and diapers.

Opportunity House Executive Director Colleen Erdes said she and the thrift store manager were called to the scene to find Vacaville firefighters battling the blaze.

The fire department got the first call at 1:04 a.m. and engines were on scene by 1:10 a.m.

“By the time I got here, they had sent back one of the trucks and said, ‘We got this,’ ” Erdes said. “But then the captain saw more smoke coming up and so he decided to open up the (container) and check and, yeah, that wasn’t good.”

The sudden rush of oxygen to the smoldering contents inside the steel container caused a backdraft effect, but no one was injured, Erdes said.

By the time the firefighters had the flames knocked down, the damage was apparent.

“It was a melted, icky mess,” Erdes said.

The container affected by the fire also stored the decorations for the Annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.

Melted stacks of what appeared to be plastic snowflakes sat under a stack of shelving frames and racks in the front of the container.

At the rear of the container sat the charred remains of the wooden shipping pallets Erdes said may have been the origin of the blaze.

She called the fire suspicious, but stopped short of calling it arson.

“The guys at the car wash (next door) said they’ve got some stuff on their video,” Erdes said, adding that the fire department told her there have been some trash bin fires in the area lately.

The Vacaville Fire Department confirmed that the fire was suspicious in nature.

Battalion Chief Phil Sanner said it is actively being investigated and that the fire did originate outside the container.

Sanner said firefighters had the exterior flames down within five minutes of arriving on scene.

The interior fire took about 50 minutes to extinguish, he said.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 2:57 a.m.

Right now, Erdes said her focus is on getting the supplies she needs for the shelter.

“So we’ve lost all our toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, diapers,” she said. “And we have 38 people in our shelter right now, so it’s not like we don’t need a lot of it every day. It is stuff we need all the time. Diapers right now are a pretty immediate need because they’re expensive and kids don’t stop going to the bathroom.”

Reach Mike Copros at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.

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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • Skeptic ScroogeFebruary 16, 2014 - 3:34 am

    Wow! I cannot wait to read the follow up to this story so that we can all know who the culprit is! My wager it's an inside job to garner sympathy from a community that already gives hand over foot! In fact they are benefitting from a fundraiser in less than 3 Weeks, the just between friends community childrens sale in vv. All those 38 people can take a dollar from their welfare check that they still receive while staying in a shelter and get mega rolls and diapers from the dollar store instead of daily smokes n grape juice. I hope the police "crack" down hard on the culprit, who probably has links to other recent cry me a river let's garner sympathy by playing the victim card. oh knight in shining armpits rescue me! Will work for toilet paper! Life is so tragic for me! SERIOUSLY, let us all donate a roll of toilet paper to the food bank of contra Solano so that the squares can be equally distributed to those in need and stop rewarding those who would mastermind attention through criminal acts! Obviously these people need toilet paper! And diapers. Let me tell you about an excellent program out of Reno that this area should model: Diaper bank Free package per diaper aged child per week. That guardian presents an id when applying, along with birth certificates, proof of income, referral from other program such as Wic. Children must be present each week. Before diapers get handed out the upcs are removed to prevent fraud. Additionally, bonus packages can be earned by taking free classes that teach better decision making, financial management. One central diaper bank solves all. Having lived nearby, I know that the residents will continue to ask for "diaper money" even if the shelters provide diapers, because its an easy sympathy sucker move to get you to part with your $$! Go ahead and "Pamper" babies, but make the system centrally accountable & equitable in distribution!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ENEDINA GARCIAFebruary 16, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    THATS REALLY BAD CAUSE PEOPLE DONT RESPECT THOSE WHO HELP THE ONES IN NEED.NOW ARE THE SUSPECTS GOING TO TAKE MONEY OUT OF THEIR POCKETS? WELL KARMA IS REALLY SOMETHING SO WHAT GOES AROUND BELIEVE ME WILL COME BACK TO YOU.KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK OPPURTUNITY HOUSE

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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