Emergency responders answered a call just after noon Thursday and found two houses on fire in north Casper. Justin Smith, fire prevention officer for Casper Fire-EMS, says they decided against an internal assault on the fire.

Too crowded with combustibles:

"Shortly after the noon hour, Casper Fire-EMS was dispatched to a structure fire 750 St. Mary, north Casper. Upon arrival, first-in units found one building nearly completely involved and an adjacent building also on fire. They attempted an interior attack but they were forced to back out."

The plan then became to contain the fire and wait for it to burn itself out. The houses hadn't been occupied for years and no injuries we reported.

Contain fire as it reduces fuel load:

"We're in a defensive mode, which basically means that all firefighting is being conducted from the exterior of the building. Primary mission is to contain the fire and not allow it to spread to any other adjacent buildings, and then the secondary mission will be to extinguish the fire in the buildings. One of the compounding factors of these fires are both of these buildings are completely full of combustibles, floor to ceiling."

Smith said they were familiar with the property and the city had concerns about the amount of stuff that was stored in and around the adjacent houses, what a firefighter would call fuel loading.

City had concerns about properties:

"Over the years the city of Casper, including code enforcement and the fire department have worked with the now deceased owner to clear the building out in an attempt to prevent this type of thing from happening. They are completely full of combustibles so it's likely that this fire could burn for quite some time."

Property owner Lisa Chernick-Miller was at the scene watching part of the family estate burn.

Father's house, who died three years ago:

"It's like another death happening all over again because I took my dad's death hard, I mean really, really hard. And now this. The good thing about it is nobody was hurt, and I pray to God that little house on the other side don't catch afire."