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Lone house, surrounded by scorched earth, survives wildfire

Elaine Thompson / AP

Flames surround a house, Aug. 14, 2012, on a hillside above Bettas Road near Cle Elum, Wash. Wildland firefighters on-site advised that the house survived the fire.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Surrounded by burnt brush and trees, the house shown above still stands, Aug. 15, after surviving a wildfire a day earlier, near Cle Elum, Wash.

By NBC News and wire services

Firefighters from around Washington state converged Wednesday on a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes, just one of the blazes being fought across parched western states.

But one house survived.

"The house was saved by defensible space," Bryan Flint, Washington state Department of Natural Resources spokesman, told The Associated Press. "The placement of the driveway and the lack of trees and brush up against the house help prevent the flames from reaching the house."

Where you choose to build your house on your property, what you build it out of and how you protect it will make your home more or less prone to fire risk, Rich Elliott, deputy fire chief, Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, told NBC News.

“Those three things are 90 percent of the battle,” he said.

“It’s not like in a city,” Elliott said. “Firefighters can’t overwhelm a (wild) fire.”

But they can help deflect flames around defensible homes, he said. About 130 firefighters were in the area Tuesday and he could not be certain if any directly acted to save the house.

Robert Sorbo / Reuters

Blazes in multiple states threaten houses and cause evacuations.

“We look for structures we can reasonably and safely defend,” Elliott said. About 130 firefighters were in the area Tuesday.

Robert Angrisano, Kittitas Valley fire commissioner who was one of the firefighters in the area, told NBC News that the firefighters were not involved in saving the house.

Firefighters in the first 24 hours of a wildlands blaze will pull vegetation away from homes and other structures and may wet down an area or spray foam ahead of approaching flames, Elliott said.

Among points to consider in keeping a home safe is making sure debris isn’t collecting under a wood deck and keeping vegetation away from the home.

Some neighborhoods saw nearly complete destruction during the Taylor Bridge fire, but some are fairly well-planned.

He said Kittitas Valley department recommends the Firewise program.

More than 800 firefighters were expected to help fight the Taylor Bridge fire in Eastern Washington, joined by 145 prison inmates and a couple of National Guard helicopters, according to NBC station KING in Seattle

As of Wednesday the wind-driven fire had destroyed more than 70 homes and 28,000 acres southeast of Cle Elum, a city 80 miles east of Seattle, in Kittitas County. Continue reading.

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