Sean Duffy was unloading some gear to move into his new East Boise residence when he noticed smoke nearby.
“I thought somebody was burning slash” in an open area between manufactured homes in the subdivision off Council Spring Road, Duffy said. “Then I noticed a Bronco was on fire and there was white ash in the air. It spread to the trees.”
He ran to the front of the house, on East Mineral Drive around the corner from his, and knocked loudly on the door. The fire had already spread to the home, and Duffy grabbed a metal bar from the ground and broke a window so he could reach in and open the door.
Three dogs ran out, and Duffy went inside.
“There was a car in the driveway and the TV was on, which scared me,” he said. “I ran deeper into the house ... ‘hello, hello!’ ... but I couldn’t see or hear anyone.”
“I just got out, and minutes later it was completely engulfed,” Duffy said.
The fire spread from the back of the house; Duffy had entered from the front.
The house Duffy ran into was later declared “a total loss,” said Brad Bolen, the Boise Fire Department’s division chief for operations.
An adjacent house downwind from the first house caught fire but may be salvageable, firefighters said. An outbuilding also burned. The blazing SUV that first alerted Duffy to the fact something was very wrong is now a burned-out hulk. The ground around the area is dotted with charred pine cones.
Boise firefighters responded in force to the three-alarm blaze in the 7800 block of East Mineral, bringing about 15 units, including crews from the Meridian Fire Department, Bolen said. The fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday, and it took only about a half hour to get the fire under control and prevent its spread to other structures, he said.
The fire started when a neighbor, using a chain saw to trim limbs, hit a rock with the blade, sending sparks into dry weeds, Boise Fire Department spokeswoman Tammy Barry said. It spread through weeds to a vehicle, trees, and then houses. Initial 911 calls reported it as a tree fire.
No one was home at the burning houses, but one man suffered a minor injury when he was bitten while helping rescue dogs from the house that ultimately burned to the ground, Bolen said.
Duffy said that man came over to help him, and when he handed the man a small dog, the frightened animal bit the man in the face. He said he didn’t know the man, who may have just been passing through the neighborhood.
But then Duffy doesn’t know many people in the neighborhood — or at least he didn’t until word spread about the guy who ran into the burning house. He just moved in on Monday and is still in the process of getting settled.
After he briefly searched the burning home and then got out, Duffy worried that maybe there was someone asleep in a back bedroom that he didn’t rouse.
“It wasn’t until the IC (incident commander) told me no one was killed that I stopped worrying,” he said.