Garage fire spreads next door: 'Your life can change in seconds'

Garage fire spreads next door: 'Your life can change in seconds' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- Fire officials say a man was working on a project in his garage Friday night when a lightbulb burnt out. The man then lit a candle to work by. That's when Eugene fire says his garage erupted in flames.

Firefighters responded to a garage fire in north Eugene at around 11:30 p.m. Friday night. Randy DeWitt, Deputy Chief for Eugene-Springfield Fire Department, said the garage contained a large fuel source.

"There was a large fuel load, a lot of items in the garage," Chief Dewitt said.

A neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous, was helping start the clean-up process at 1635 Russet Drive. He said the homeowner had collected large amounts of books, records, and clothing in the garage.

Firefighters described the garage fire as an inferno that eventually spread to a neighbor's house. Between the two houses was a cedar fence, which Chief DeWitt called a "fuse."

In minutes, Sandy and Pete Roberson's adjacent garage was in flames.

Sandy said she was fast asleep when Pete yelled her name frantically. He pulled the blinds in the living room and saw the orange fireball.

The Roberson's called 911, grabbed what they could and moved their cars off the driveway.

Neighbor's Doug Kindred and Lynn Cannon watched in horror.

"Flames were 20 or 30-feet high. This whole garage here, it was totally in flame. You couldn't really see anything in there, just all fire," Kindred said. "Pete and Sandy, they didn't even know their house was on fire, that's how quickly it took off."

The fire actively burned for more than hour said Cannon, whose backyard touches the Roberson's lot.

"I was really surprised at how big the fire was, and how noisy [it was]. I could hear the cracking, people yelling, and frankly, it was quite frightening," Cannon said.

Cannon said with the weather being so dry, she was scared.

"I packed up my things, just in case, and pulled the car out of the garage. Sparks and embers were flying overhead," Cannon said, adding that the smoke drifted down several blocks.

Sandy Roberson says she's still in shock.

"It was really horrible, really scary. It's amazing how your life can change within just a split second," Robertson said.

Sandy and her sisters checked out the damage on Sunday. She said the fire ripped through her garage, her attic, and across the home's cedar shingles.

Inside, she said, the water was dripping onto the carpet, which was visibly soaked.

Roberson says it's going to be a long road ahead. "

We're planning on months and months of being displaced. Hopefully we can find some place to live."