Fire destroys two historic homes in downtown Boise

Credit: Eric Turner/KTVB

Fire destroys two historic homes in downtown Boise

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by Bonnie Shelton

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 7:36 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 9:01 AM

Fire destroys two homes in downtown Boise

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BOISE -- Fire destroyed two homes in downtown Boise and shut down a four-block stretch of a major road through the city.

Huge flames shot from the roof and thick, black smoke poured out of the homes at the corner of 4th and Myrtle streets. 

Crews were on scene for hours this morning putting out the fire.

The flames threatened a third home that did have people inside.

Firefighters were still putting out hot spots late in the morning.

Investigators are trying to figure out what sparked this fire around 4:30 a.m.

The two homes that burned were vacant.

FIRE CREWS SAVE THIRD HOME

Crews were able to save a third house just feet away and get the people inside out safely.

It didn't take long for this fire to spread from one historic home to the next.

Fourteen units responded to the fire, shutting down Myrtle Street for blocks.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan says firefighters immediately started working to protect another home just feet away.

"Firefighters were able to get to the third home. There were people in it," said Doan.

Everyone got out safely.

Smoke could be seen for miles as the two vacant homes burned.

"I was worried about the house and the trees," said Brian Boermeester who lives two doors down.

He saw orange flames down the street and ran outside.

"Started out with three engines, and then four, and five and six engines, and hose started connecting to all of the fire hydrants," said Boermeester.

WATER FLOODS ROADS

Firefighters used a lot of water to try to keep the fire from spreading.

Ladder trucks alone poured 3,000 gallons a minute down on the homes.

The large amount of water flooded nearby roads. Shingles and leaves blocked sewer grates.

Ada County Highway District crews had to be called in to clean up the mess.

“There was quite a bit laying on the street and that was over the crown of the road here on 4th Street, so they dumped quite a bit of water on it," said Clint Heckenlively with ACHD.

After three hours, firefighters were able to get the fire under control and send some crews home.

NEIGHBORS SAD TO SEE OLD HOMES GO UP IN FLAMES

People who work close by say it's sad to see two historic homes destroyed.

"I was born and raised here and they've been here for as long as I can remember," said Evelyn
"Very devastating. Very devastating." Evelyn Higgins.

Devastating but at least not deadly.  Nobody was even hurt.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused this huge fire.  Boise Fire and Boise Police are working on this case.  They say that's routine.

And in what appears to be just a strange coincidence, last month, a Jeep crashed into the same home at the corner of 4th and Myrtle streets. The house was also vacant then.

HOUSE DEEMED UNSAFE, TO BE TORN DOWN

A structural engineer inspected the fire-damaged buildings and determined they are unsafe and could collapse.

Because of those unsafe conditions, a heavy equipment crew will knock down the remaining walls of the home at the corner of Myrtle and 4th streets. The demolition work will take place on Saturday.

Engineers are continuing to assess the safety of the second home on South 4th Street that was damaged in this morning's fire.

Investigators believe the fire started in the home on the corner that needs to be demolished. Tearing down the building will make their investigation more difficult, but it will allow the investigation to proceed.

Motorists should expect delays on West Myrtle Street when the demolition work takes place.

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