An alert neighbor probably saved lives when for the third time in a month an untended patio grill sparked a house fire in Star Valley.
The deck on a hilltop two-story home ignited early Friday morning when a propane grill was left on high inadvertently for several hours.
Frantic efforts by the homeowner and neighbor Jim Carlen to douse the flames with garden hoses likely kept it from spreading to the attic and destroying the house on East Pine Canyon Road, said Hellsgate Fire Chief Gary Hatch.
“Between the two of them, they saved the home,” he said.
Carlen reportedly woke when he heard crackling at about 2 a.m. outside his window. When he saw flames shooting from the neighbor’s porch, he ran over and woke everyone up inside.
The homeowner and Carlen, the spouse of Hellsgate Fire’s administrative assistant Karen Carlen, grabbed hoses and started spraying the flames from the main level and from below the porch.
Carlen acted so quickly, he only had his underpants on when firefighters arrived, Hatch said.
Firefighters knocked the fire out, tearing the porch down to extinguish any remaining embers.
The homeowners said they had turned the propane grill on high to burn grease off, but forgot to turn it off when they went to sleep.
“Well it burned the grease off and part of the house,” Hatch said.
Having a grill under a roof, even on a porch, violates fire code, Hatch said. It should also sit 12 inches from anything flammable.
“People have to understand that anything with fire that is under a roof is asking for disaster,” Hatch said.
A propane grill also caused a fire on June 18, when another hilltop home caught fire in Star Valley. That grill was also up against the home, he said.
Firefighters from three departments labored for hours, but couldn’t save the house.
A third home also burned to the ground, this time from a charcoal grill left unattended on the front porch of a rental home in Star Valley May 26.
The renter barely escaped with his life after flames forced him to barricade himself behind his mattress.