PENDLETON - A brush fire came within feet of reaching a house at about 7 p.m. Monday, engulfing a nearby shed and charring a large portion of the ridge between Southeast Frazer and Southeast Goodwin avenues.
Julie Taylor was inside a house on the 600 block of Southeast Goodwin Avenue, about ready to take a nap with her 1-year-old nephew, when someone rang her doorbell. She said she was greeted by a frantic young woman who said there was a fire coming toward her house.
"So I grabbed my stuff and grabbed the baby and got out," Taylor said. When she came around the corner of her house, she said she could see the flames in the trees near the other side of the house.
Acting quickly, she ran up the stone steps to the street level and moved her car, which was parked directly next to a cluster of juniper bushes that eventually burned up.
The girl who rang the doorbell was with another friend who may have called in the fire. Those girls, however, left the scene before they could be interviewed.
Taylor said the young women had spotted the fire from down below and raced to the house to warn her. The girl who rang the bell actually took the nephew from Taylor and carried him up to safety.
"They didn't know who lived here," said Taylor.
The first fire team left the station prepared for a brush fire, Capt. Matt Benedict said.
"While we were en route they said it was getting real close to the house," he said.
They arrived on scene to discover the fire was already consuming a shed structure about 5 or 6 feet from the main house.
"What we did was call a general alarm," Benedict said. While his team focused on containing the spread of the shed fire, he was able to direct other teams as they arrived, making sure to protect other houses before putting out the spreading brush fire.
Starting with just three firefighters, there were about 10 by the time other units responded, according to Benedict.
Flames had surrounded the house on three sides, stopping at the fence line along the south face of the house and ending with the juniper bushes a few feet away from the north side.
Multiple trees near the house were either mostly or partially burned. Firefighters felled some of them after power was shut off to the lines running in front of the house.
"To horseshoe around a house and not burn it down like it did is pretty amazing," said house owner Jeff Skinner, who was called to the scene by his tenant. He praised the firefighters for their quick, effective response.
Scott Goff, the deputy state fire marshal, was called to the scene but was reportedly unable to determine anything as to the cause of the fire before dark.
Taylor said people in the neighborhood were setting off fireworks the day before, something she thought very foolish because of how dry the grass was.
"I was thinking that last night; it was so dry out," she said. "I was just gonna go out and water."