Wind-driven fire destroys Houston home
A Houston home was destroyed early Thursday in a fire fueled by high winds, drawing dozens of firefighters and sending one resident to the hospital.
A Facebook post from the Houston Fire Department said the fire was first reported at about 5:15 a.m. Thursday, and fully extinguished by 8:30 a.m.
“On arrival, initial crews found the two-story home to be fully engulfed in fire and both occupants outside and accounted for,” firefighters wrote. “About 30 firefighters worked on the fire, challenged with gusty winds fueling the fire and dry spruce trees surrounding the home catching fire.”
Houston Fire Chief Christian Hartley said the A-frame home, on Karami Lane along Prator Lake, was a total loss. Twenty-six Houston, West Lakes and Willow firefighters responded, with the origin and cause of the fire still under investigation.
Firefighters were able to save a shed near the home, but a pet cat owned by the residents remains unaccounted for.
“They do not know if the cat was still inside the house or if it made it out the door with them,” Hartley said. “The residents actually woke up to the smell of smoke and that’s when they went to the neighbors’ house to call 911, so they don’t know if the cat made it out of the house or not.”
A resident who “had a cough that wouldn’t go away” after the fire remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon for smoke inhalation, Hartley said.
High winds were a major factor in the blaze.
“The biggest thing of why this fire spread so quick was because of the winds,” Hartley said. “This was a lakeside house, so it just picked up the fire and the flames spread that much quicker.”
Fires in modern homes can double in size every 90 seconds, Hartley said, even on days without wind.
“When you have the winds blowing as it was in the Valley today, just 15, 20-mph gusts, it can double that speed,” he said.
Hartley said the residents of the destroyed home had working smoke alarms, and did the right thing once they noticed the fire.
“Leave the house, then call for help and don’t go back in,” Hartley said.
The Red Cross of Alaska is providing assistance to both of the displaced residents.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.