A fire that apparently started in back of a Kennewick home quickly spread through the house and sent a black cloud of smoke billowing into the sky.
When Kennewick fire crews arrived at the two-story home at 1318 S. Lincoln St., the home was completely engulfed in flames, said Battalion Chief Tod Kreutz.
"We went on a defensive attack immediately," he said.
A mother and two young children were home when the fire first broke out just before 5 p.m. They escaped without injuries and were being helped by the Benton-Franklin Chapter of the American Red Cross.
About 30 firefighters from Kennewick, Richland and Pasco fire departments and Benton Fire District 1 responded and had the blaze contained in about 15 minutes.
Two house fires in Kennewick were reported within two minutes of each other -- the first was at 10th Avenue and Johnson Street -- sending multiple units to both scenes.
Initially, dispatchers also thought they had a deck fire at a home near 11th and Lincoln, but the first responding crews quickly determined there was only one fire on Lincoln Street, Kreutz said.
"We received multiple calls from witnesses ... and it's better to err on the side of caution," he said. "It didn't in any way cause a delay to our response. We just had a lot of units driving through Kennewick in a five-minute period."
Tyler Opitz saw flames at the back of the house, which is adjacent to the Desert Hills Middle School baseball fields.
He was one of the people to call 911, but he said dispatchers told him crews already were on their way.
"It was completely engulfed in flames when I was here," the 26-year-old Kennewick man told the Herald. "The deck was on fire and then the roof (of the deck) collapsed ... and a bigger flame came out."
Opitz said he watched limbs from the tree hanging over the deck catch on fire, just before the roof of the deck collapsed.
Flames and smoke also shot out of the back windows on the second floor, he said.
As soon as the first crews started getting water on the house, the flames quickly died down, Opitz said.
Firefighters, however, had to climb onto the roof of the house and garage and cut holes in both to find and put out all the hot spots.
Kreutz said firefighters also focused on keeping the flames from spreading to the two neighboring homes. About an hour after the fire first was reported, most of the smoke had cleared.
The final crews cleared the scene around 10:45 p.m.
Brian and Jacqueline Martin own the Lincoln Street home, which is assessed at $169,000, according to the Benton County assessor's website.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. The Johnson Street fire was caused by a ventilation fan in the attic, Kreutz said.
The battalion chief said now that it's summer, everything is drying out quickly and everyone should remember that with high-temperatures and low-humidity, fire burns quickly -- even in houses.