Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

When Stephenie Murdock learned that her neighbor’s house was on fire Tuesday afternoon she couldn’t simply run out the front door to safety.

Murdock and her husband, Steven, operate an adult foster care in their home at 2355 Baker St., just south of St. Elizabeth Towers between Fourth and Fifth streets.

The couple care for two people in their home, one of whom is immobile and the other nearly so.

Stephenie Murdock said she initially heard a loud “pop,” which she thought might have come from a different neighbor who has been doing some construction work.

But a few minutes later someone pounded on her front door. It was her neighbor, Michelle Budd, alerting her to the fire.

Murdock credits Budd, who knows the Murdocks care for people confined to wheelchairs, with acting quickly to alert the couple.

“She did a fantastic job,” Murdock said of Budd. “Her priority was to get everyone out of our home.”

No one was injured in the fire, said Baker City Fire Chief John Clark.

He said the cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation.

The blaze started in the rear of Budd’s home, at 2389 Baker St., near the ground level, Clark said.

The fire caused structural damage but Clark said it’s not clear whether the home can be repaired.

The 1,200-square-foot home, built in 1930, is owned by Alan and Linda Schmeits, according to Baker County Assessor’s Office records.

Clark didn’t know whether the home was insured.

He said Budd and her son, the only two people living in the home, were both in the house when the fire started.

Clark said about 10 people from the Baker City Fire Department worked on the blaze, along with four from the Baker Rural Fire District, four each from Haines and North Powder, and two from the Greater Bowen Valley Fire Protection District.

Murdock praised the rapid arrival of fire crews.

“I’m very, very happy with the fire department,” she said this morning. “They did an awesome job. If the fire people weren’t there so quickly our house would have been up in flames too.”

Murdock said that while she was evacuating along with her husband and their two residents, she could see flames on the ground near the fence between the two homes.

But the fire didn’t cross the property boundary.

Murdock said she was able to return to her home, with her two residents, on Tuesday evening. The couple also have three children.

“Thank goodness they were at school during all this,” Murdock said.

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