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House goes up in a blaze in Grand Coulee

Cause is under investigation

 

The aftermath of the fire Saturday night, with Mike Horne's house in the background. - Scott Hunter photo

Mike Horne awoke to an odd sound early Saturday, opened his bedroom curtain and faced a fireball blazing outside, as the house next door burned.

"I opened the bedroom curtain and it went from 65 degrees to 130 instantly," he said. "I couldn't get out of there fast enough."

Horne lost windows on that side of his house, so intense was the heat from fire a few feet away. He said the whole house likely would have burned if it hadn't been sheilded by its old asbestos siding.

A camper and old pickup behind his house didn't fare as well. Both burned.

Horne said he ran outside immediately and hosed down the side of his house to try to keep it from burning.

By Saturday night, he was picking off pieces of charred windowsill and recalling the 5 a.m. fire.

He thinks he likely woke up because his neighbors from across Dill Avenue were pounding on the door.

Then he "heard this whoof, whoof, whoof and opened the drapes," he said. For the next 30 minutes or so, he was squirting his house down until the fire department arrived.

The house that burned, at the corner of Dill Avenue and Jones Street, belonged to Ted Benton, Horne said, and contained tools and equipment from Benton's old saw repair shop. Benton now lives in Georgia, he said, and hadn't lived in the house for 20 years.

The fire grew more intense when containers of acetylene welding gas caught and blew.

The scene Jamie Epperson photographed when she looked out her window across the street from the fire Saturday morning.

Large balls of burning debris, caught by wind, flew to the far side of a neighbor's house across Jones Street, where Jamie Epperson had been watching Netflix, winding down after a night shift at the casino. She noticed a glow coming from the family room, got up to investigate and saw the blaze. A policeman was already on the scene.

She and her husband, Chance, decided to turn on the sprinklers, and she took her kids to her sister's house.

"It's kind of scary," she said.

Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Paris said the fire damaged two more adjacent houses, and a park unit at King's Court RV Park had melted siding outside and damage to window coverings.

Firefighters were on the scene until 11 a.m.

Paris said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Grand Coulee police reported questioning three young boys about lighting fireworks the evening before. A lighter was found near the corner of the house where ignition was thought to have occurred. And spent bottle rockets and a fire extinguisher were found nearby.

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