Response time questioned in Mukilteo house fire

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 7:09 PM

A home in Mukilteo is a complete loss after a fire Wednesday, which happened just before 10 a.m. in the 6000 block of 88th Street.

A parent and child were outside the house, saw smoke, and managed to get their dogs out before the house became fully engulfed.

By the time fire crews arrived there was nothing anyone could do. The house nestled along a beautiful water view bluff was gone.
   
Neighbors scrambled in vain to save the home of a young family.

“So, I put a garden hose on and tried to do what I could to help,” said Mary Bess Johnson, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years. She has seen fires here before, but nothing like this.

“There were police and animal control, but no fire trucks for quite a while,” she said.

In fact, Johnson says, it took a good 45 minutes for the first crews to get a drop of water on the fire, due to an apparent perfect storm of conditions that could put everyone on these bluffs at risk as well.

Officials say the two closest units were on other calls when the fire started, so Mukilteo called in a ladder truck from a nearby department.
   
But that truck was too big for the single lane switchback  roads and got stuck in a hair pin turn - at one point blocking other trucks from getting to the scene.  

Other firefighters came in a different way, but for a while they  could only stand and watch, as crews hooked up 1,200 feet of hose to the nearest hydrant.
 
Fire officials concede bringing the big ladder truck from Station 23 did hamper efforts. Why that truck was sent will be investigated.

“We share the same map books. This is a known area. I can't speculate on the particular unit, but it is common for station 23 to come into Mukilteo on an almost daily basis,” said Brian McMahan of the Mukilteo Fire Dept.

Fire officials say a space heater kept too close to furniture started the fire. Losses are estimated at more than $315,000.

The residents are staying with family.

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