HARRISVILLE -- Firefighters from two agencies spent Tuesday afternoon battling a stubborn, smoky, house fire that shut down Washington Boulevard for more than three hours.
No one was injured in the fire, but one of two houses on the lot at 683 N. Washington Blvd. was destroyed. The second, behind the first, sustained some outside damage, but Northview Fire Chief Lynn Froerer said it is probably still habitable.
Three people live in that second building, but none were at the scene Tuesday afternoon. Neighbors said they were at work.
Onlookers initially saw smoke coming from the home at 12:30 p.m.
"I just saw white smoke," said Marisela Vasquez, who was walking in the area with her two children and their dog. "I thought, 'This is not good.' "
Fire engines from Ogden and Northview fire departments responded and found nobody at home in either house.
Two dogs were at home and were released. One of those dogs belonged to Dewey Crayton, who lived in the front home that was burning.
While smoke poured from the roof and flames licked at the shingles, Crayton walked around a neighboring home's yard, trying to catch his 9-month-old American Staffordshire terrier, Rahja, who was running loose, scared.
He walked down the yard, calling "Ra! Ra!" over and over, until he found her amid high weeds, caught her and carried her to his car.
Crayton said he was running errands with his two daughters when the fire started.
"I received a call saying, 'It looks like your house is on fire.' I go home and sure enough, it's my house."
"I'm just so happy we weren't there taking a nap," he said, but then told a friend on the phone that "I was supposed to be going on vacation tomorrow. My mother's flying in to be with my girls, but now they're sort of homeless. Everything's burning."
He said he'd been living in the home about seven months and was unsure if his renter's insurance was paid up.
What's in the burning building? "Everything I've ever had in my life," he said.
Janelle Garner, 665 N. Washington Blvd., got frantic phone calls from neighbors about the fire because her house is right next door.
"I was on the freeway and they said, 'You need to get home, flames are shooting everywhere!' " she said.
She got back to discover flames and the sky filled with smoke, but the wind was blowing the smoke and flames away from her house, a 120-year-old brick building she recently spent money renovating.
Dozens of people from an apartment complex across the street gathered along the street and watched the smoky fire. North View Fire and Ogden Fire had a total of five trucks on the scene, including a ladder truck the firefighters used to pump a steady stream of water onto the roof of the building.
Froerer said the house was so heavily involved with fire when they arrived that he was unable to send men into the building to knock down the flames.
"We're strictly on defense," he said, trying to use the aerial hose's high pressure to punch holes in the roof, where the fire was burning.
The roof was old, with heavy boards and shingles, and it was slow work as smoke billowed. By 4:30 p.m. the fire was mostly out, but the street was still closed.
Froerer said because no one was home when the fire started, there was no way to tell what started it until the fire marshal can investigate.