MILLCREEK — A 12-year-old boy playing with matches around an open gas can started a three-alarm fire Thursday that destroyed his home and heavily damaged his neighbor's, fire investigators said.

The fire started in a carport at 4394 S. 730 East about 12:30 a.m. and quickly produced heavy flames.

"Basically it went from the carport and spread both directions," said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham. "So essentially we had two house fires going at the same time."

Mecham did not know why the boy who started the blaze was out that late or exactly what he was doing with the matches when he ignited the fire.

Robert Ferris lives in the house next door to the house where the fire began. He said he was lying in bed when his dogs started barking. And then, even without his hearing aids in, he could hear a loud "boom."

"And it got real light in the windows. And I thought, 'Dang, daylight already, and I haven't even got to sleep.' I looked out the window and the neighbor's yard was just a wall of flame," he said. "I looked out the windows and there was a lot of flames next door and then told the wife, 'Grab the dogs and let's get out.'"

Ferris said he is the original owner of the house and has lived there for more than 40 years. He had remodeled the kitchen, put in new floors and a new roof all within the past 10 years.

It took nearly 75 firefighters from Unified Fire Authority, Murray and South Salt Lake about 40 minutes to knock down the initial fires and much longer to extinguish all the hot spots. The home associated with the carport was the most heavily damaged. The second home suffered exterior damage and the fire got into the attic, Mecham said.

No one was injured.

Contributing: Geoff Liesek

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam