Fast-moving fire heavily damages Yakima home (Video, Photos)
Oct 14, 2012 (Menafn - Yakima Herald-Republic - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --YAKIMA, Wash. -- Firefighters responded Sunday afternoon to a fire that rapidly spread through a small home near the old Boise Cascade Mill, displacing numerous residents.
(Click to see a gallery from the fire)
No one was injured in the blaze, though the homeowner thinks two of her chihuahuas were trapped inside.
The call at 505 Erickson Lane in northeast Yakima came in just before 1 p.m., battalion chief Mitch Cole said. About 17 firefighters from the Yakima Fire Department were sent to the scene.
"Although the guys have done really, really good in getting the fire out, there was significant damage before we even arrived," Cole said. "When we arrived on scene, we had smoke coming out of all the windows."
Several people were home at the time of the fire, including young children, but everyone got out safely, Cole said.
It took close to an hour to get the blaze under control, and there was still had some fire activity at about 2 p.m. A fire investigation team arrived on scene at about 2:30 p.m., but Cole said it would be a while before they could determine a cause.
The fire was unusual in how quickly it engulfed the house, Cole said.
"In the middle of a day like this, you just don't expect a fire to get this kind of a jump on you," he said.
Part of the problem was structural: Access was limited by a makeshift addition and fire damage to a stairwell, which slowed firefighters down in getting to the attic to tackle flames there. In the end, firefighters had to cut a gable vent opening that had been converted into a window, bringing it all the way down to the ground.
They also used a ladder to access the attic fire, dousing the flames with a specialized penetrating nozzle, which aids in situations where fire activity is well within a structure.
Pacific Power was called to cut power so electrical lines didn't get in the way of the firefighting efforts.
There was never any danger of the fire spreading to nearby homes, Cole said.
Homeowner Ann Wells was in shock, surrounded by her neighbors and family, some of whom lived in the home with her. The youngest in the house was 8 months old.
"It was so quick," she said. She's lived in the house since 1971.
Early in the afternoon, Wells was putting up Halloween decorations in the front yard when some of her kids told her that there was smoke coming from under one of the kids' beds.
They were able to get it under control themselves, and found a charred coloring book once they cleaned out the small fire.
Wells said they started to bring the mattress outside to check if it had been damaged by the flames, but before she could do that, her kids yelled that her bedroom was on fire, too.
"When I came out, the flames were shooting out of the bedroom into the front room," she said.
She didn't even have time to grab her purse from inside, she said.
A group of neighbors was huddled around Wells, offering to give her furniture and anything she needed. Cole said the home's occupants have requested aid from the Red Cross.
Cole said the house was almost a total loss. No damage estimate was immediately available.
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