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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE SANDY HOUSES FROM BRUSH BLAZE

Firefighters arrived just in time to save several houses from a raging brush fire that homeowners were battling with garden houses as it swept across several back yards.

Christian Sonne, 10336 S. Serpentine Circle (1235 East), said he spotted flames in the gully behind his house about 5 p.m. and yelled for his wife to call 911 while he and his brother headed to the back fence with hoses.The two men were hosing the yard when the fire, which at the time was at least 50 yards away, was picked up by a stiff wind.

"There were flames 25 feet high and the smoke was so thick we completely lost our bearings," Sonne said. "My brother was in front of me, and for a few seconds I really didn't know if he was OK."

Two firefighters arrived when flames were just a few feet away from several houses along the ridge, Sonne said. The first firefighters called out the entire Sandy Fire Department after seeing the wind-swept flames. Within 30 minutes, the fire had been contained after burning about 40 acres of grass and brush in the Dimple Dell ravine.

The fire started near the bottom of the gully and quickly spread up the hill toward houses on Serpentine Circle.

Sandy Battalion Chief Dave Jensen said the fire probably was caused by children with matches - either smoking or lighting fireworks. He said no suspects have been apprehended.

Fire reached to within a foot of one house and 3 feet of another, Jensen said, but there was no structural damage. Jensen said no injuries were reported.

Jensen said the fire was under control within 30 minutes but firefighters continued to battle hot spots for two hours.

Sonne was in the process of moving out of the house on Serpentine when he had to stop to battle the fire, which blackened the entire back yard. Calamity has been on the family's heels for the past several days, he said - he and his brother, James, were in the Los Angeles area Friday during the earthquake.

James Sonne lives in Pasadena, near the epicenter of Friday's trembler. They flew here last night to complete the family's relocation to Southern California.