Thursday, November 21, 2013 hillside home in Mukilteo burned to the ground Wednesday morning in part because a large fire truck got stuck on winding roads and driveways leading to the fire, causing a delay that could have made a difference, fire officials said.

The fire serves as a warning to other homeowners in hard-to-reach areas.

Rarely do you see a home so thoroughly engulfed in flames as was the $315,000 home. Neighbors said it seemed to burn for 45 minutes before firefighters could start getting water on it. It was then put out quickly, but it was too late.

The Jones family got out safely, but all that remained was charred, smoking rubble: A bathtub here, a bedroom window there, a view deck with the spectacular vista of Puget Sound.

On their way to the blaze in the 6000 block of 88th St. SW, firefighters encountered sharp curves, narrow driveways and winding roads. We counted at last 10 sharp turns that all the fire trucks had to pass to get to where the fire.

“It’s just a series of switchbacks in this area,” said Assistant Mukilteo Fire Chief Brian McMahan. “Ladder 23 was coming down one of the switchbacks and got to the point they could no longer make the turn.”

At a length one-third longer than regular fire trucks, Ladder 23 responded only because several other Mukilteo fire units were busy at another fire. And because it was the very first truck here, it temporarily blocked all other trucks.

Was it delayed long enough to have made the difference? Mukilteo fire officials can’t say yet.

“It’s a concern,” says Mike Creeden, one of those homeowners. He lives right next to door to the fire. But Creeden is not critical of the fire department’s delayed arrival.

“That’s one of the compromises that we made when we consciously chose to live here,” he said.

It’s not just curvy roads that create a challenge for firefighters here. Some roads are too narrow for certain trucks. Firefighters had to lay 1,200 feet of hose to the nearest hydrant. And older homes like the one that burned are not required to have sprinklers.

“Typically,” McMahan said, “would a residential sprinkler system hold the fire in check? Yeah.”