Fire nearly takes Island home | Sunday fire damages home, garage on 68th Avenue

A house engulfed in flames in the 3000 block of 68th Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island on Sunday. - Martin Judge/Reader photo
A house engulfed in flames in the 3000 block of 68th Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island on Sunday.
— image credit: Martin Judge/Reader photo

A residential Island home went up in flames shortly after 2 p.m. on Feb. 15. Mercer Island and Bellevue Fire Departments responded to the blaze, which occurred in the 3000 block of 68th Avenue S.E.

According to a press release from the Mercer Island Fire Department, the fire originated in the garage after a garbage can caught on fire. The owner of the house was in the basement at the time and was notified of the fire by a neighbor who spotted the smoke from up the street before calling the fire department. There were no injuries.

Martin Judge, who lives across the street from where the fire took place, said the owner had apparently placed barbecue coals into a plastic bucket before they were completely cool, causing the bucket to melt and catch on fire.

The blaze overtook the garage prior to the firefighters’ arrival and extended into the attic space above the house. The majority of damage was to the roof, garage and attic, according to the press release. The main floor and daylight basement of the home sustained water damage. The blaze was extinguished by 3:03 p.m. The Mercer Island Fire Department said the first units reached the fire within five minutes of the dispatch.

“The initial attack of this fire was offensive, which means fire personnel fought this fire from the interior of the structure,” the press release explained.

Judge said his neighbor was able to get her Porsche out of the garage before the flames made it too dangerous.

“It spread so fast, it took your breath away,” said Judge. “It’s a good thing it wasn’t summer or those trees would have been all dried up and burned fast.”

Eight fire units responded to the incident for a total of 22 firefighters on scene. From Mercer Island, seven on-duty firefighters reported and five off duty also responded. Bellevue Fire contributed 10 firefighters to the scene.

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated. Preliminary reports estimate $300,000 worth of damage to the building.

Mercer Island firefighters remained on the scene overnight to monitor hot spots and secure the residence.

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