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Boy, matches spark yard fire

Smoldering juniper shrubs are the result of a backyard fire Wednesday at a house in Langley. Kevin Simmons, Lt. Clancy Overturf and Capt. Andy Campbell sprayed down the hot spots. - Gayle Saran
Smoldering juniper shrubs are the result of a backyard fire Wednesday at a house in Langley. Kevin Simmons, Lt. Clancy Overturf and Capt. Andy Campbell sprayed down the hot spots.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

A 9-year-old Langley boy playing with matches Wednesday charred his yard and almost burned his family's home.

According to Fire Protection District 3, the boy was playing with several boxes of matches in the backyard of his Anthes Street home when a large area of juniper shrubs caught fire.

FD3 Chief Don Smith said it was an observant passerby who probably saved the home. Seeing the flames in the backyard, the good Samaritan grabbed a garden hose and doused the shrubs closest to the house.

That action was important because it took some time for firefighters to get to the blaze. With no volunteers at the Langley fire station available to respond to the 5 p.m. incident, Saratoga station volunteers were the first on scene, arriving 11 minutes after being paged by Island County's 911 system. Volunteers from Freeland also helped battle the fire.

Smith said everyone got there just in time.

"When I saw the black oily smoke, I thought we had a structure fire," Smith said. "We got lucky -- no one was hurt and the house was undamaged"

Smith said he discovered the cause of the fire after talking with the boy. The boy said he had tried to douse the fire himself, then ran to tell his mother when he could not control the flames.

Even without the confession, Smith said the cause of the fire was fairly obvious.

"The boy was curious, and was playing with several boxes of matches, some of which were recovered near the edge of shrubbery," he said.

The fire was the second of the day for the Freeland volunteers. They had just returned from fighting a fire smoldering in a bark pile at at a Freeland landscape supply business.

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