A Ben Franklin Transit bus driver saw smoke as he drove past a home in the 1700 block of N. 22nd in Pasco Thursday afternoon, and jumped into action.
The driver contacted the bus dispatchers, who called 911. The driver then went to the house and knocked on the door to see if anyone was home, as his supervisor arrived from a block away.
“He’d already knocked on the door to make sure nobody was inside,” said supervisor Rick Sanders. “Right after that I showed up and I knocked on the door, and we couldn’t get any voices out of there. We saw smoke on the back side, and right before the fire department came up you could start seeing the flames. It was extensive smoke so we knew it wasn’t just a backyard barbecue.”
Pasco Fire Department spokesperson Ben Shearer says the back side of the home was fully engulfed when fire crews arrived at the scene shortly after noon.
“The fire went from exterior to interior, using the attic through the eaves in the loft to get up through into the attic and into the structure,” said Shearer. Neighbors told fire fighters that the people who live in the house are usually gone during the day. Fire fighters did a quick search of the inside of the house when they arrived to make sure no one was inside, and found no one.
Franklin PUD arrived on the scene to cut power to the home.
Flames crept dangerously close to a neighboring home, which had been evacuated as fire fighters were arriving on the scene. The owner of that home was visibly distraught at the sight of thick, black smoke pouring over her roof, with flames just a few feet away from her own eaves. Calm winds helped to keep the fire from spreading to other homes and outbuildings.
Shearer says it’s too early to determine whether the fire might be suspicious in nature.