SUNNYVALE -- A three-alarm fire raged for more than two hours Wednesday morning before firefighters contained it but not before it damaged two homes.

Residents of both houses on Lantana Drive were able to escape the fire that sent plumes of black smoke billowing. There were no injuries to humans, but a dog -- a Labrador -- was later found dead, according to Capt. Jeff Hunter of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

The fire broke out at 9:25 a.m. when a 30-foot cypress street erupted into flames before the flames spread to two homes, one on each side of the tree. As firefighters from Sunnyvale and Santa Clara poured water on the structures, dozens of people watched from across the street. Hunter said the roof of a two-story house partially collapsed during the fire.


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A man who said he lives next door said he looked out his window and saw flames shooting out of the neighbor's home.

When the flames jumped to a tree between the two homes, "I knew we needed to get out. It had gotten too dangerous," said the man, who did not want to be identified.

The fire did spread to the second house.

At one point, firefighters could be seen on top of a roof as flames shot out of one of the structures.

Another neighbor stood on his roof and doused his home with a garden home in an effort to stop the flames from spreading.

That man, Joseph Moreno, said he was home when a tree trimmer working in his neighborhood banged on his front door, yelling that a neighbor's house was on fire.

When a Moreno realized flames were shooting from his next-door neighbor's home, he grabbed his dogs and ran them outside. Then he grabbed a garden hose and went on his roof.

"I was trying to keep my house from going up in flames," he said.

As Moreno doused one side of his roof and home with water, he was told repeatedly by Sunnyvale firefighters and police to get down. He said they threatened to arrest him but he did not get down until they began pouring water on his home.

"I didn't care," about being arrested, Moreno said. "I stayed until they started watering my house. I feel like I saved my house."

Hunter said Moreno's actions were "not something we condone, but I understand the personal nature of it. He's trying to protect his home."

Both homes have been deemed uninhabitable, and the families have been provided temporary housing through the American Red Cross. Those wishing to help the families may donate by visiting RedCross.org and indicate "Sunnyvale Lantana Drive Fire" in the dedication.

Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/markmgomez.