VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Vancouver couple’s home was spared from potentially major fire damage thanks to a quick-thinking newspaper delivery man.
Josh Long was working as a subcontractor carrier for The Columbian when it all happened Monday morning. As Long was driving around and dropping off papers in the Greyhawk Ridge neighborhood, he heard something unusual.
“As soon as I got out of the door, I heard this crackling noise,” he said.
After delivering a newspaper on Northeast 44th Avenue, Long drove up the street to where he heard the noise. Near a porch, Long said he could see some flickering light. Upon further inspection, Long was shocked to find a fire.
"Underneath the deck was pretty much engulfed in flames," he said.
Long ran back to his car to dial 911. While on the phone with dispatchers, he ran back to the home near the corner of 44th and 122nd to see if anyone was inside.
“[I] rang their doorbell several times, knocked on their door several times," he said. Long noticed several cars in the driveway of the home, so he suspected that someone was asleep inside.
Sure enough, Long’s instincts were right. The homeowner, Chuck Graves said he heard, "Ringing, ringing, ringing. So I ran down and opened the door, and the guy's saying 'your house is on fire!’” At that point, flames were beginning to shoot up between the cracks of the wooden porch.
Graves grabbed a small fire extinguisher from the kitchen while Long stayed on the phone with responders. Fortunately, fire crews were already in the area responding to a vehicle collision nearby. Firefighters responded within minutes and put out the fire. Damage was limited to just the porch area.
Both Long and Graves wonder what might have happened if Long had been delivering papers in the area just minutes before or after the fire started to grow.
"The timing was just perfect. I don't think we could ask for anything more,” said Long.
"Fortunately, the paper boy was delivering the paper next door. Another 10 or 15 minutes and it could have gotten very serious," added Graves.
As for how the fire started, Graves said that firefighters on scene told him they believe the blaze was caused by bark dust under the porch. Graves said investigators believed that the material may have spontaneously combusted and potentially smoldered for some time before catching the porch on fire.