SPOKANE, Wash. -

A massive house fire on Spokane's South Hill sent neighbors and firefighters scrambling to protect other homes Thursday evening.

The fire started around 4 p.m. on 19th and Sherman.  People reported seeing a plume of smoke as far away as stateline.

"It was massive," said Jared Geuther.

"A mile high or so, just pitch black smoke cloud," he added.

Jared Geuther saw the smoke from the Spokane Valley and rushed to the South Hill to find the fire fast approaching his own home.

"You couldn't even see ten feet, our house was just full of black smoke.  Just started, I got my family photos out, all my old comic books," he added.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said it appeared the fire burned for some time before anyone noticed and called 911.  When firefighters arrived, flames were visible and crews were forced to fight the fire from the outside.

"By the time I walked down here it had been several minutes and the fire was coming out of the top and the fire was coming out of the structure, really intense fire and they beat that down so hoorah for the fire department," said Jenny Thomspon, who lives nearby.

"They did an amazing job, very thankful," said Geuther.

Several neighbors also reported feeling and hearing several loud explosions after the fire started.  Schaeffer said those sounds were most likely propane tanks or spray cans exploding in the fire.

Schaeffer said it appears the fire is accidental, but won't know for certain until a fire investigator can take a look.