Fires in abandoned homes pose unique risk to firefighters. Here's how
Firefighters battled an abandoned house fire in Kent Sunday. (Courtesy: Puget Sound Fire)

In a single day, Puget Sound Fire said squatters caused fires at two abandoned homes in Kent. The structures were next door to one other.

The first fire occurred early Sunday morning at an abandoned home in the 26000 block of 116th Avenue Southeast. Less than 24 hours later, a similar fire gutted an abandoned home next door.

In the second instance, Puget Sound Fire said the blaze was confined to one room. Firefighters said the structure was vacant and boarded up. They added that nobody was hurt.

In the aftermath of these two cases, KOMO News learned that abandoned structure fires are some of the most challenging calls for firefighters.

Puget Sound Fire told KOMO News that abandoned structures are often modified and changed internally, leading to sudden confusion for firefighters during emergencies.

A fire broke out at an abandoned home in Kent over the weekend. (KOMO News)

"Are there any holes in the floor? Especially if there’s a basement, that would be a concern. Are there holes in the ceiling that would allow the fire to get into the attic space quicker than it normally would?” said Pat Pawlack with Puget Sound Fire.

Pawlack added that firefighters are required to enter an abandoned building, regardless of if there is proof that it is inhabited.

"We don’t know if there’s anybody inside or not, so we have to assume there is someone inside," he said.

According to Puget Sound Fire, very little can be done to prevent squatters from entering abandoned buildings, especially during frigid winter weather.

“If someone is gonna want to get in, out of the elements, into a place like this, there’s chain link fence where they cut through it, or they’ll pry the boards off," explained Pawlack. "They're looking for a place to stay warm."

Given the dangers of these cases, KOMO asked what can be done to keep other abandoned structures from going up in flames.

According to a representative with Kent Police, if you suspect an abandoned property house transients, they say you should contact code enforcement.

From there, officers will investigate specific properties and could eventually fine property owners.

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