PORT TOWNSEND –– A Port Townsend man watched as his home of about 35 years went up in flames Thursday afternoon.
When neighbors saw smoke coming from the house at 916 Adams St., they knocked on the door and no one answered, then called 9-1-1.
Neither of the two occupants of the house were home when the fire started and no person was injured, firefighters said.
Firefighters found the body of one dog in the debris. The whereabouts of another dog is unknown.
Nick Reeser, whose son Chet lived with him at the house, said when he left his home at 11:30 a.m. Thursday that the last thing on his mind was if it would be there when he got back.
He returned to his home shortly after neighbors and law enforcement told him about the blaze.
Firefighters received the call about the fire at 12:48 p.m., said Bill Beezley, spokesman for East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.
The house was a “total loss,” Beezley said, adding that the back of the structure appeared to be the most heavily damaged.
The Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross has offered help to the Reesers, offering to put them up for three nights for free.
Reeser said that because his son was house-sitting anyway, they do have a place to stay through the weekend.
Reeser said he was holding on to hope that at least one of his two dogs escaped the blaze.
Neighbors told Reeser they saw one of his dogs escape.
Beezley said people who live in that neighborhood should be on the lookout for the other dog.
The Jefferson County Fire Investigation Task Force, a team of local firefighters and law enforcement, was conducting an investigation Thursday afternoon, Beezley said.
That investigation would take several hours, he said and they might not have a definitive answer even after the investigation, he added.
It took firefighters an unusual 2.5 hours to knock down the flames, Beezley said.
A false ceiling made it difficult for firefighters to extinguish flames that were in the attic, he said.
Reeser, who has insurance on his home, said he doesn’t have any idea what might have started the fire.
“It’s always on my mind — did you leave something on, did you leave a burner on, is everything shut off,” he said.
Reeser has a wood stove, but said he hasn’t used it in the past month.
When he left his house Thursday morning, Reeser thought he smelled a little smoke.
Because he couldn’t smell smoke inside his home, he believed one of his neighbors might have been burning something.
Connie Welch, a neighbor, said she saw flames and called 9-1-1. She said at first, much of the smoke was coming from the back of the house.
Some who were at the scene of the fire said they could see smoke from the fire from the beach.
During the initial attack of the fire, firefighters searched the home to see if anyone was inside. Once it was clear, Beezley said they took more of a defensive attack.
East Jefferson Fire-Rescue was assisted by units from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, Quilcene Fire & Rescue and Engine 91 from Naval Magazine Indian Island. An engine company from Clallam County District 3 staffed a station in East Jefferson Fire-Rescue’s district while the fire was fought.
A total of 24 firefighters responded to the blaze.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.