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Fire destroys portions of two northwest Santa Rosa homes (w/video)

  • Fire crews battle a fire burning two houses on Shelley Drive in Santa Rosa on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (KENT PORTER/ PD)

Fire destroyed large portions of two northwest Santa Rosa homes Thursday afternoon, though residents made it out safely with the help of neighbors.

Carol Fremault was preparing her young granddaughter for an outing shortly after 1 p.m. when she heard frantic knocking at the door of her Shelley Drive home. Someone was telling her to get out of the house, and quickly: It was on fire.

That person turned out to be Tanya Martin, who was house-sitting across the street for a friend when she saw a plume of smoke between Fremault's home and a neighbor's house.

Santa Rosa Shelley Drive House Fires

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“Before I had time to recognize what it was, it was out of control,” Martin said. She called 911 and then started banging on doors, prompting Carol to leave with her husband, granddaughter and dog. The family cat was unaccounted for Thursday afternoon.

Michael Morales, who lives in the neighboring house with his dad, step-mother, and his parents' infant child, said he was home alone when he noticed the flames. He was able to get out quickly with the family dog.

It appears the blaze started in a narrow yard space between the Fremaults' home and that of their neighbors, Santa Rosa Fire Capt. Jack Thomas said. At least six people were displaced.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Once started, the flames spread rapidly.

“It was moving extremely fast, but crews got on it extremely fast,” Thomas said. The fire was reported at 1:19 p.m. and when units arrived shortly afterwards, there were heavy flames in between the two houses and fire had spread to the roof of the Fremaults' two-story home.

Firefighters were able to knock down the worst of the flames in 30 minutes, Thomas said. The remaining hotspots were under control within about an hour.

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