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Raging House Fire Threatened Neighboring Home

By Kelli Saam
Published On: Feb 20 2013 04:56:17 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 20 2013 06:45:43 PM CST
Chico House Fire
CHICO, Calif. -

A fast-moving fire damaged most of a Chico home early Wednesday afternoon.

Neighbors and firefighters had to move fast to keep it from spreading to the home next door.

The fire broke out around 12:30 p.m. at 241 W. 21st Street in Chico.

Chico Fire Division Chief Keith Carter said the woman who lives there told investigators she left a cigarette burning on a desk inside the enclosed back porch.  When she returned the desk was on fire.

The woman grabbed her dog and got out. She was too upset to talk with reporters.  Neighbors said her name is Elizabeth, and she lives in the home alone.

The fire quickly engulfed much of the home. The gusty wind started pushing the flames toward the house next door.

Neighbor Jesus Duran grabbed a garden hose to protect his home.

"I hurried up and turned on my water hose," said Duran.  "I kept spraying the side of the house the whole time over here.  The flames were coming through the fence, they were right here."

His wife, Lita Colman worried too.  She had already lost the home once before.  In 2008 a giant tree fell on the house, and forced her to rebuild.  She felt helpless watching the fire Wednesday.

"Big, it was huge," said Colman.  "It was almost touching our house."

The intense heat cracked a window in Colman's house but firefighters kept the flames from spreading.

A cigarette is believed to be the cause of the fire, but the investigation is ongoing.