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Must see video: Two on green line get booted at house fire. Cop drags away assault victim & firefighters grab homeowner. Plus, citizen fire critics. In all, a strange story from Sultan, Washington.

This is truly one of the more unusual fire stories I have seen in recent weeks. It happened just before 5:00 AM on July 11 on Willow Avenue in Sultan, Washington. As one house burned and spread to a second, two different people grabbed green lines and found themselves forcibly removed by a cop and a firefighter. In addition, the person taking this series of videos is quite critical of the fire department's response.

In the video above, shot before the fire department arrived, you will see a law enforcement officer drag a man holding a garden hose across the street and away from the fire.  In both the YouTube description and in news coverage that man is described as an "assault victim". According to the various accounts, law enforcement was called to the neighborhood because that man had reported he was jumped by a group of people. Responding to the assault report, the officer had driven past the home where the fire started and hadn't seen anything. While the cop talked with the assault victim down the street, a neighbor alerted the officer to the burning home. Both the cop and the injured man rushed to the house. An "interview" with the assault victim can be found at the bottom of this post.

Now, look at the video above taken after the arrival of firefighters. You will see another man grab a garden hose and start spraying the exposure. That man is described as the homeowner. After firefighters nearby realize what's going on they push him away from the house. 

The videos come from the YouTube channel of TCRemodel, who is described in his profile as a "Sultan resident". This resident is quite critical on the videos (including the ones above and below) and in the video descriptions about the response and actions of the fire department. Here's a sample:

Fire on porch goes to fully involved inferno while residents wait for Sultan Fire Department District 5 to arrive. With in seconds the FF gets the inferno under control. Then he just sets the hose down and walks away. After pointing out somebody should be on the hose and save the neighbor's roof little is done. Incident Commander can actually be seen directing crew back from the fire hose.

In a business where seconds count and lives are on the line. We need leadership that at least knows you do don't leave a charged 2.5 on the ground while someones property is going up in flames. In this short amount of time we witnessed the fire on the roof spread through the whole truss system and out the other side of the roof 30 ft away.

The criticism of the department made the website SkyValleyChronicle.com. They have a lengthy article that includes an interview with Snohomish County Fire District 5 (Sultan) Chief Merlin Halverson who disputes neighbors' accounts on the length of time it took for the first units to arrive. Like the police department, the fire department first heard about an injured man in the neighborhood at 4:53 AM and responded with an aid car. It wasn't until 4:57 when the fire report came in, apparently about the same time the neighbor alerted the police officer:

Halversen said the first battalion to fight the fire, Battalion 51, was on scene at 5:04 a.m. just seven minutes after the fire call came in.

This is a timeline some neighbors dispute.

Two of the neighbors the Chronicle spoke with have the perception it took the department anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes or so to get firefighters on scene fighting the fire.

One neighbor, Myra Henry, who lives two houses to the east of the one where the fire originated told a reporter that many neighbors were standing in the street saying, “Where’s the fire department?” as flames engulfing the house lit up the sky unchallenged.

In addition, the article talks about a controversy over setbacks when this community was built in 1998. The chief says the eaves of the homes are only three feet apart in portions of the neighborhood. 

Above is the interview of the man who says he was assaulted. This brought the initial response to the neighborhood. This is the same man who grabbed a garden hose and was pulled away from the burning home by the cop.

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