Officials Investigate Cause of Fire that Claimed 2 Homes in Auburn

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AUBURN -- At least two families lost everything Saturday in a fire that ripped through an Auburn neighborhood.

While what caused the fire is still being investigated, neighbors are counting their blessings the fire didn't spread.

Elaine Bienvenue called 911 as the fire was getting dangerously close to several of her rental properties.

"I was coming out and I saw a plume of smoke coming out here," Bienvenue told FOX40 at the scene of the fire. "Then it was going into the trees. I grabbed the hose, you can see it right here, and I was trying to keep the sparks from getting on to this house."

The two homes that burned were not on a street and could only be accessed via a narrow walkway.

"The firefighters came on that street but they didn't come on Linden Avenue where this house is because they didn't even know how to get here," Bienvenue said.

"Had we had a driveway it would have been a little bit easier to initial attack," said Neil Bennette of the Auburn Fire Department.

Bienvenue and other neighbors did what they could with garden hoses until firefighters arrived. Unfortunately, Bienvenue's house caught fire. Her tenant, a man who lived there alone, lost everything.

The family of six who rented the first house that caught fire also lost everything, but the couple and their four children were all able to get away OK.

A third house had cracked windows and paint which boiled because it was so close to the fire's heat. Firefighters say surrounding neighbors caught a lucky break, since the wind was strong yesterday. Bienvenue knew defensible space saved her other rental house right next to the one that burned.

There's no word on a cause yet from the Auburn Fire Department, but witnesses told FOX40 they heard several loud pops just before they saw the flames.