Blaze ravages Snoqualmie house

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SNOQUALMIE - Jason Shewmaker and two friends thought they heard footsteps on the back porch. When the teen-agers stepped outside to investigate around 9:30 a.m., they realized the noise was actually the back porch of the house on fire.

"It was like a dream, it didn't look real," said Matt Sharwark, 14, who was preparing to go shopping for CDs with brother David, 16, and Shewmaker, 14.

Shewmaker, who lives in the three-story house located in the 3900 block of Park Street with his sister Shannon and mother Noel Swan, and his friends escaped the blaze without injury.

About 15 minutes prior to the start of the fire on Nov. 7, Shewmaker said he was outside and noticed nothing unusual. Upon discovering the fire, Shewmaker attempted to put it out with the garden hose, but the blaze grew too quickly. After the failed attempt, the boys grabbed David's new bicycle from the garage and a gas can, which they thought could add to the danger, and ran to the front of the house. Shewmaker then flagged down a passing motorist for help.

It took 30 firefighters from Snoqualmie, Fall City, Bellevue and Eastside Fire and Rescue about 90minutes to knock down the fire and another hour to fully contain it, according to Snoqualmie fire department officials. The source of the fire is still under investigation. Because of the solid construction in the historic house, built in 1898, it was difficult to extinguish the flames inside of the walls, officials said.

Damage was estimated at $250,000.

Swan said just last month the family checked the batteries in the building's smoke detectors and she had recently joked with a friend about eventually replacing her old furniture.

The family, which had been living in the home for about two years, did have renter's insurance, she said.

"I've never been through anything like this," said Swan.

Although the family cat was still missing and her possessions were engulfed in flames, Swan said her children's safety was all that mattered.

Homeowner Steve Crabb said that though the gravity of the accident had yet to set in, he was relieved to find that no one had been hurt.

"We've had floods, but we've never been on the opposite side of the stick," said Crabb, who had made arrangements for the displaced family to stay in another nearby rental.

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