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Downed power lines may have sparked Lake Tapps house fire

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LAKE TAPPS, Wash. -- Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a house fire on the north end of Lake Tapps Thursday afternoon.

Cathy von Essen had been getting ready for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, when she heard her mom scream out.

“I ran up the stairs and our whole side of the house was just on fire,” she says.

When they rushed outside, they could see flames shooting from the carport and roof. Neighbors told von Essen they had seen a power line come down on her deck just seconds before.

“They said they heard something pop, and then there was a spark. And they saw the line fall.”

East Pierce Fire investigators say it will take a while before they know the exact cause of the fire. But they say windstorms earlier this week could have weakened some of the older power lines in the area. That’s something they will be looking into, along with the power company.

“There were some wires down that did pose a hazard to our crews,” says Assistant Chief Russ McCallion. “That report of the live wire or electrical line fire may end up being the cause of the structure fire.”

Investigators are still assessing the damage, but the home looks like it might be a complete loss.

“My mom and dad have lived in this home for almost 50 years,” says von Essen.

Still, she knows that she’s lucky that her family all got out safely.

“I’m just so thankful I got my mom and our dogs out. I'm just so thankful.”

Two firefighters had to be taken to the hospital for minor injuries, but they are expected to recover.