Fires keep crews busy in Jefferson County on New Year’s Eve

East Jefferson Fire Rescue Firefighters extinguished a fire on Southport Lane on New Year’s Eve.

East Jefferson Fire Rescue Firefighters extinguished a fire on Southport Lane on New Year’s Eve.

PORT TOWNSEND — A lack of water hydrants hampered firefighters as they battled a carport blaze at a home on Southport Lane, while a concurrent vehicle fire and medical call kept all the available crew busy on New Year’s Eve, according to East Jefferson Fire Rescue Chief Bret Black.

Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and Indian Island’s Engine 91 responded to two unrelated fires occurring virtually at the same time, about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a press release.

A vehicle caught fire at US Bank in Port Townsend, while another car caught fire at a house on Southport Lane. The car at the bank was completely destroyed, although firefighters kept it from spreading. The home on Southport Lane was still able to house the owners, Black said.

No one was inside either the car at the bank or the home and no injuries were reported. The cause of the two fires had not been determined.

Soon after both fires were dispatched, an additional emergency medical service 911 call committed the last available crew, Black said.

“For almost 30 minutes, we had no fire or EMS units available in Districts 1 and 3,” he said.

The house on Southport Lane suffered an estimated $250,000 worth of damage, although the blaze appeared to have been contained to a carport and garage and their contents.

The monetary amount of the content loss could not be estimated as of Sunday. Two classic cars from the 1950s in the garage, a tractor and a mini cooper were destroyed, Black said.

The fire began in the mini cooper in the carport and spread into the garage, Black said. It was not known Sunday how the blaze ignited in the car.

The garage was underneath the house and after extinguishing the fire that they could see by about 7 p.m., crews worked until midnight tearing down ceiling and wall board to make sure fire hadn’t spread into the house, Black said.

“The homeowner had very robust construction features,” Black said. “The house was constructed with double-layered sheet rock” which “saved the house.”

Among the heroes of the evening were volunteer water tenders, according to Black.

There are no hydrants in the area so four water tenders from East Jefferson, Port Ludlow and Discovery Bay fire districts were needed to help with water supply for the firefight on Southport Lane, which is in a subdivision off state Highway 20 south of the Four Corners area.

Sustaining a water supply was a real challenge, Black said.

“We have an incredible cohort of water tender volunteers,” he said Sunday. “They really came to bear last night.”

Water tenders are often busy since “about half our district doesn’t have hydrants,” the chief said.

Crews rotated several times during the evening, “which is not ideal,” Black said. “We do not have enough firefighters for the level of demand placed on our people.”

Mutual aid was received from Poulsbo Fire for district coverage.

“We are very grateful to our volunteers, off duty members and mutual aid partners for their support of this evening’s surge of 911 calls,” Black said.

Voters in East Jefferson Fire Rescue district, into which Port Ludlow district residents recently approved a merger, will consider a levy lid lift during a Feb. 14 special election.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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