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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.