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Quick-spreading blaze guts duplex.

Byline: Rebecca Taylor The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Fire destroyed a Springfield duplex Tuesday and sent a cloud of brown smoke billowing above part of the city.

The blaze gutted the rented duplex at 1614 Eighth St. and left a blackened skeleton of studs leaning precariously toward the street. A pickup truck and sedan parked in the driveway were ruined. And the exposed wall of a neighboring home was burned.

Investigators were working to determine the cause of the fire, which started about 11:30 a.m.

Francisco Partida-Haaby, 16, lived with his parents and 14-year-old sister in one side of the duplex. The family was about to move out after 17 years, so most of their belongings were in storage, he said.

"I guess we're lucky for that," he said as fire crews doused the house from multiple directions. "My mom got all her important papers out."

He said he was home alone when he heard crackling in the backyard and smelled smoke rolling in through the second-story windows. He tossed some clothes and a cell phone from the second-floor balcony and ran downstairs to alert his neighbors.

Patsy McAdams lives two doors down. She saw Partida-Haaby throwing things outside and watched as another neighbor tried to attack the flames with a fire extinguisher.

"That was like spitting on a bonfire," Mc-Adams said.

The blaze spread quickly from a woodpile behind the house to the first and second floors, she said. Within moments, smoke and flames were billowing out of the garage.

McAdams ran next door and roused Leslee Berg from a nap. The house Berg shares with her fiance, James Heavirland, was burned on the side closest to the duplex. Their wooden fence and lawn were scorched, but she was able to herd her three dogs and one cat into her car for safekeeping.

Deputy Springfield Fire Chief Mark Walker said the structure was fully involved when crews arrived.

The fire burned hot and fast, collapsing portions of the structures as it went.

It was too dangerous to enter, so firefighters had to attack from the sides with hoses and above using a ladder truck, a less effective tactic than fighting from inside, he said.

Once the fire was out, crews had to bring the crumbling structure to the ground to prevent unintended collapse. A damage estimate was not available.

Partida-Haaby said the flames spread so quickly he did not have time to rescue some pet birds.

He hoped the family's cats had managed to escape.

Neighbors reported a series of explosions as the power went out, windows shattered and tires on burning vehicles burst.

"I've never seen anything like this before," McAdams said. "This was scary. It happened so, so fast."
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Title Annotation:Fires; Flames had engulfed the Springfield structure when fire crews arrived; the cause is under investigation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 29, 2007
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