Vashon firefighters quickly quell blaze; Cemetery Road closed for an hour
By LESLIE BROWN
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Editor
November 13, 2009 · Updated 1:35 PM
A chimney fire on Cemetery Road just west of the McMurray Middle School was quickly quelled Friday morning after dozens of firefighters showed up, the first of them arriving within six minutes, said Vashon Fire Chief Hank Lipe.
Firefighters closed the busy road for about an hour so that they could work unimpeded, he added.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, flames were visible, suggesting the fire could have quickly engulfed the large white house on the 9600 block. But the crews were able to knock the fire down within 10 minutes, saving the structure, he said.
Fires grow rapidly, Lipe noted. So had it taken crews several more minutes to respond, "the fire could have been 10 times the size," he said.
Dispatchers received the call after someone driving past the home noticed flames leaping from the chimney. The family — Janet and Wayne Miller and their two adult daughters, all of whom were home at the time — had no idea a part of their house was ablaze.
Janet Miller said she walked out of her home in her bathrobe and jacket to feed their dogs when she saw fire trucks, their lights flashing, come down her long, gravel driveway.
"I stood there, waiting for them to pull up and explain themselves," she said.
When they told her to get everyone out of the house because there was a fire, she ran in, yelling for her family — and making sure someone scooped up their new kitten — before they all dashed out of the home.
The fire occurred in the chimney of their wood-burning stove. "Imagine if it had happened last night after my husband stoked the fire and went to bed. I shudder to think," she said.
Miller added that she feels immensely thankful to the person driving by who saw the flames and dialed 9-1-1.
"I don't know who called it in, but I'm so grateful," she said.
Lipe said that chimney fires are common — and often disastrous. A very similar fire — like this one, in the exterior chase of the chimney — occurred two years ago on the south end of Maury Island, but because it took firefighters several minutes longer to respond, that home was destroyed, Lipe said.
"Quick response means less damage," Lipe said.Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Editor Leslie Brown at email@example.com or 1-206-463-9195.