It was a first for Lower Macungie Fire Chief Dave Nosal.
The fire to which the department was called around 8:40 p.m. June 27 at 7320 Hillcrest Drive was a major house fire that basically ran out of air and put itself out, he said.
What saved the home from even more extensive damage was the fact that the homeowners had closed the door between the basement and the first floor. Had it been open, the house would have been "a 100 percent total loss," he said.
"We used not one drop of water on that fire," Nosal said.
According to Nosal, the homeowners noticed smoke when they got home, opened the basement door, noticed more smoke, evacuated and called the fire department.
Nosal said he noticed the haze when he entered the home and felt heat on the floor. When he started down the basement stairs he noticed "a lot of damage to the basement living area," he said.
About 75 percent of the basement was finished as living space, he said, and included a bedroom which is where he believes the fire started.
"We don't know the cause yet," he said.
And though the home was spared, the homeowners still will be out of the structure for up to six months he predicts because joists between the basement and first floor were damaged.
To burn, a fire requires four components, he said: fuel, a heat source, air and the interaction of the first three.
If one is removed -- such as the air in the basement -- a fire will stop burning. That's why fire prevention tips include closing doors, he said.
Nosal also said firefighters were very grateful to neighbors who kept them hydrated with water and iced tea for the duration of the incident since it took several hours to clear the basement of smoke through its two small windows.