A smoldering cigarette butt is the suspected cause of a fire that severely damaged one house in Newcastle, and caused additional damage to a second home when hot embers blew onto a cedar shake roof.
No one was injured but damage to the two homes is estimated at a combined $530,000.
A neighbor called in the fire at 12:17 p.m., Saturday, reporting smoke and flames coming from the chimney of her neighbor's house. Within seven minutes, firefighters arrived in the 8300 block of 128th Avenue Southeast to find heavy flames through the roof of the single-family residence.
Twenty-three fire units from Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton and Eastside Fire and Rescue worked for more than an hour to control the two fires.
Eventually, firefighters were ordered to abandon the first home after part of the roof collapsed. The blaze caused an estimated $500,000 damage to the house.
Gusty winds blew hot embers onto the cedar shake roof of a second home, causing it to catch fire. Firefighters were able to contain that fire to the attic. Damage to the interior of that home was minimal, estimated at $30,000. Residents were able to reoccupy the house late Saturday evening.
Bellevue investigators have not confirmed the fire's cause, but suspect it started accidentally from discarded smoking material -- a cigarette butt in a plastic container on the back deck of the home.
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