Man Survives Washington Wildfire With Concrete Home

| by Nathaly Pesantez

While many houses in Washington's Okanogan County have been unable to withstand the current wildfire sweeping the area, one Washington man's concrete home stood up to the firestorm, remaining undamaged as flames engulfed it. 

"The fire was right here, 30 yards or so to the north of me when I decided it was time to go in the building," John Belles, owner of the concrete home, said to KXLY.

Belles was working 30 miles out of town when a friend told him of the wildfire approaching his property, according to ABC News. 

Hearing this, Belles sought to take shelter inside his concrete home, which he built in 1999 to withstand wildfires and other extreme weather conditions, but not before taking some measures prior to.

"I grabbed the hose, soaked my clothing down and doused the north side of the building as much as I could," Belles said to ABC News. "[The fire] got close enough that it was super heated and getting uncomfortable out there in the smoke. I went inside, shut the door behind me and watched it move by."

When Belles made it inside, he saw flames as high as 20 feet surrounding the outside perimeter of his home.

"I didn't know how it was going to work out, but I figured I was safe inside the building. It was cool and well protected with the concrete and everything," Belles said. 

Belles stayed inside for about a minute before he stepped outside to assess the damage. 

"The building survived as it's supposed to. I was surprised the outside of the building didn't have any damage at all. The whole 20 acres is just scorched," Belles told ABC News. 

A service poll took on the most damage, knocking out power in his home. 

Still, Belles home did what he intended it to do--a design he kept in mind as a resident of the valley. 

"It's a perfect example of the authorities being spread thin and not being able to take care of everybody," he said to KXLY. "You know, you can't depend on that--you have to prepare."

The Okanogan Complex of wildfires is now the largest in the state's history, measuring at just over 400 square miles. 

Sources: KXLY, ABC News, KING-TV

Photo Credit: KXLY via ABC News