Firefighters battled a fire in southwest Bakersfield Friday night that started in the garage of one house and spread to the attic of another.
It was reported at 6:22 p.m. in the 8900 block of Gleeson Court, which is south of White Lane and west of Gosford Road.
An off-duty fire captain in the area alerted dispatchers that the fire was spreading, so the call was upgraded to a so-called two-alarm fire, bringing out five engines and three ladder trucks, said Bakersfield Fire Department Capt. Mike Lencioni.
It took 20 to 25 minutes to control the fire. Crews went into the first house early on and salvaged belongings by putting them in the middle of a room and covering them with a canvass sheet.
Two cars from one of the homes burned in the blaze. Tires on one burned, causing them to explode, Lencioni said.
Janelle Ashbaugh, who lives five houses down from the site of the fire, was driving home with her 13-year-old daughter from dinner when they saw the fire. They both called 911 simultaneously to report the fire.
She saw who she said she thinks was the homeowner spraying the fire with a garden hose on his front lawn.
Ashbaugh and another neighbor alerted surrounding houses to tell those inside to get out.
She was standing on the street when the tires exploded.
"The explosion was so big it sent flames to the street," she said.
Crews had some difficulty with neighbors coming home from work driving over the hoses, Lencioni said.
"That's why we caution everyone and tell them to stay out of the area," he said.
Damage between the two homes was estimated at $200,000, Lencioni said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but appears accidential, Lencioni said.
No injuries were reported.