"They pretty much had to stand there and watch it burn," said eyewitness Arturno Dominguez.
Firefighters trucked in 90,000 gallons of water from three different hydrants, but doing so was slow going. The home is on a narrow dead end street and with fire trucks stacking up near the scene, the only way to get water in was to lay hose from truck to truck.
"We just leapfrogged the water from the very last truck up to the front," said Chief Kevin Hosler with the Needham Fire Department.
Doing so cost precious time. The home and drapery business that Sarah Ellis ran from it was destroyed.
For years, homeowners say they've complained to the county. This is an unincorporated area where fire hydrants are not required. Adding them could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a hefty price tag, but certainly less than the toll from the loss of human life.
"I find it hard to believe all the agencies in this area can't come together for something as simple as hydrants," said Chief Hosler.
No one was hurt in this particular fire. The county commissioner whose precinct is in this area has not returned our phone call for comment.