Three children escape Danville fire, neighbors rush in to help

Three children escaped a house fire in Danville Thursday afternoon, in a blaze that saw the flames spread to a nearby hillside and threatened other homes.

The fire broke out at 3:30 p.m. on Willowview Court, off Diablo Road.

Neighbors quickly grabbed shovels and hoses to help control the spread.

"I looked outside the window and saw smoke outside and flames outside the bathroom window," said 13-year-old Madison Habben.

She quickly got her younger sister and brother along with their pets outside to safety.

She said they had just finished their first day of school learning from home.

Their grandmother had just left.

Her parents rushed home from work.

"When I pulled up, I could barely see the house. There was so much smoke coming through the roof," said Mike Habben, Madison's father. 

Firefighters say embers landed two to three hundred yards away up on the hillside threatening two other homes.

"We started to see fire and smoke in the hills in the back of us," said neighbor Dave Green.

He and other neighbors grabbed shovels and cut a line up on the hill to prevent further spread. Fire crews arrived quickly.

The flames burned close to the back fence of homes.

"It’s amazing. It’s a learning thing, how far the embers can travel," said Green.

Firefighters said the forecast for hot weather in the coming days is a reminder that this is peak fire season

"All the hillside is dry, the brush, the grass. Everything is ready to ignite," said San Ramon Valley Fire District Battalion Chief John Viera. "We’re on a high stage of alert, ready to go."

The Habben family said fire danger is something in the back of their minds but never imagined this.

"Seeing everything gone and having to start over. We‘ve lost everything," said Summer Habben, Madison's mother. 

But the family is grateful for their neighbors' support.

Many left stuffed animals and other items for the Habbens.

There is relief that there was no loss of life thanks to the quick action of Madison

"Luckily, she did the right thing. Everybody’s safe. We’re good," said Mike Habben.

The family’s three dogs and a rabbit were rescued

The Habbens are now staying with a neighbor.

The battalion chief said the origin and cause of the fire are under investigation.

The family said it may have started on the side of the house.

They plan to rebuild.