House blaze prompts queries

East Olympia fire officials were questioned by residents Wednesday about what could have been done to improve response to a blaze that burned down a home, Fire Chief Melvin Low said.

The lack of a fire hydrant nearby forced firefighters to rely solely on tanker trucks to transport water to the blaze. The access and approach for firefighters to reach the scene also was difficult because of its location, assistant chief Mark Nelson said. The fire started in a vehicle in the carport, Low said.

The residents escaped unharmed but couldn't salvage any possessions.

They are staying with family members, Nelson added.

Tuesday night

The blaze was reported about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 10300 block of Stardust Lane Southeast.

Firefighters arrived to find that the fire had spread into the attic, Low said.

"Once the fire is in the attic, there's no way to really stop it," he said. "It needs to vent itself, and you're just chasing it. It's unfortunate it got that big of a head start on us."

The outcome would have been the same even if a hydrant had been closer, he added.

The fire department must show the Washington Surveying and Ratings Bureau that their tenders are able to produce a continuous flow of 250 gallons of water per minute, which is about the same rate as a small hydrant, Low said.

"The county had, back in the early 1980s, decided not to require hydrants in the county. Consequently, we have to bring in all of our water," Low said.

Online reporter April Chan writes for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-754-4229 or achan@theolympian.com.