Fire leaps from one Eastside home to another, fed by hot, dry winds

VIDEO: Fire leaps from one Eastside home to another, fed by hot, dry winds

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — Ferocious flames leapt from one house to another in Sammamish Monday, leaving two families searching for a place to stay.

Hot, dry and windy conditions are also sparking wildfires in central Washington.

No one was injured in today’s house fires. But firefighters say these weather conditions helped the flames spread.

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A cellphone video shows just how intense the fire was.

Flames erupted just before 12:30 p.m. Monday, sending those who live in this leafy Sammamish neighborhood scrambling.

“We live around the corner,” said neighbor Gail Viamonte, “and saw the ambulances flying by and saw the fire trucks flying by, so we came this way, worrying about my parents. But saw it was their very dear neighbors right across the street.”

The homeowner called 911, telling the operator there was a fire on the outside.  When firefighters arrived, flames were tearing through his home and quickly spreading to his neighbor’s house right next door.

“The original home, as you can see to the south here,” said Eastside fire Deputy Chief Ben Lane, “it (fire) extended up onto the roof, which that radiant heat caught an exposure, caught the adjacent home on fire.”

Lane said with two separate structures on fire, firefighters pulled a second alarm.  He said the cedar shake roof on the first home almost certainly aided in the fire’s quick spread.

“In this weather, with the dryness, certainly can be an additional factor that crews need to combat,” he said.

The nine people in both houses, including four children, managed to escape. But they won’t be able to stay there overnight.

The fire is casting a pall here on this Labor Day.

“It’s discouraging,” said Viamonte. “We feel very badly for the family. But we are grateful for all the people that are helping.”

It took firefighters about an hour to get the fire fully under control.  Even at that, they were back hours later to put out some new hot spots.

The heat also meant crews had to be rotated in and out to make sure no one suffered in the high temperatures.

In fact, a red-flag warning had already been issued for the Eastside.

Now fire investigators are trying to determine just where the fire started and how.