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2-Alarm Fire Burns Homes On Bethel Island

BETHEL ISLAND (CBS SF) -- Two houses were destroyed and a third home damaged by a stubborn early morning fire in Bethel Island Wednesday that took about six hours to extinguish, a fire official said.

The blaze was reported at 2:35 a.m. on Taylor Road, near Taylor Place.

Firefighters arrived to find a one-story house engulfed in flames, which had spread to two adjacent two-story homes on either side, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Henderson said.

Crews began battling the fire at the one-story home in the middle where it appears to have started, he said.

As they were working on that home, a power line fell, "which hampered our ability to get at the second house," Henderson said.

Henderson said firefighters had to battle the blaze from outside of that home due to safety concerns, which took longer than an interior attack.

The chief said the downed line did not appear to cause any outages.

The home in the middle burned to the ground, and the fire was still smoldering in the second home as of 7:30 a.m., although no flames could be seen.

"Both houses are going to be total losses," Henderson said.

The third home sustained about $20,000 to $25,000 in damage, he said.

One civilian suffered a smoke-related injury but was treated at the scene. At least four people were displaced from the two destroyed homes, according to Henderson.

Since there are no fire hydrants in the area, crews had to pump water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to fight the fire.

The response included 10 engines, four water tenders and about 40 fire personnel, he said. Crews reached the scene about eight minutes after the blaze was reported, Henderson said.

He said the response would have been faster, but the Bethel Island fire station was closed on July 1 because of budget cuts. As a result, Henderson said, firefighters had to travel about 5 miles from the Knightsen Fire Station, instead of 1 mile, to reach the blaze.

The Knightsen station recently reopened with the help of a federal grant, and another station is set to reopen in Brentwood on May 1 using the same funding, the chief said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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