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Fire destroys Merced non-profit and damages businesses nearby


A fire in Downtown Merced destroyed Saint Vincent De Paul on Thursday evening. The flames threatened other businesses next door - but fire crews were able to save them.

One of them is Joe's Barbershop. The owner, Joe Orozco, said although the fire didn't spread to his store, the firefight caused damage which in turn forced him to close his door.

He says the situation makes him emotional.

"That's tough. A lot of hard work man goes into the barber business, building up the cliental," said Orozco.

Orozco has been at this location in Downtown Merced for nine years. He drove over Thursday night after hearing about the fire.

"I got here and they allowed us to assess what damage was done," said Orozco. "The flames, they looked like they were shooting like 15 feet in the air, easy."

He said there is minor damage outside of the building and the door needs to be replaced.

Chief Derek Parker from the City of Merced Fire department said, two firefighters were hurt battling the blaze. Thankfully, their injuries are minor.

"The building collapse is a concern of ours. These pre-1933 unreinforced masonry buildings is dangerous," said Chief Parker.

He said the building is a total loss, and they might have to knock the structure down and rebuild.

The chief said the cause of the fire is still under investigation as of Friday night.

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