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South Whidbey fire claims two homes
SUNLIGHT BEACH — Two small summer houses near Bayview were gutted by fire Monday morning. No one was at home at the time, and there were no injuries reported, officials said.
Black smoke was visible for miles in the bright chilly air as the fire, which was reported about 8:30 a.m., engulfed the house at 2450 Sunlight Beach Road, then spread to the house next door at 2452.
Neighbors said the first house is owned by the McKinstry family, and the second by Vickie and Barry Larson. All are part-time residents, neighbors said.
More than 10 units responded from Island County Fire District 3 and the Central Whidbey fire district. Neighbors gathered across the road to watch.
Firefighters acted quickly to save the house at 2246 on the other side of 2450. It appeared undamaged.
Dean Olson was in the area shutting off the water to his summer house at 2441 Sunlight Beach Road when he noticed the fire and called 911.
"I looked over and saw smoke, then flames started pouring out the front window," Olson said. "I couldn't believe it."
Olson said no one was home at the time, but it appeared someone had been at the first house within the past 24 hours, because there was a bare patch in the snow in the driveway where a vehicle may have been parked.
District 3 Deputy Chief Mike Cotton said there was no indication yet on the cause of the fire. He expected mop-up operations to continue for some time.
"I really don't like fires down here," Cotton said of Sunlight Beach. "These houses are way too close together."