4:30am - I wake up to people talking outside my bedroom window. I open my eyes, and see flashing lights coming through the shades. I look outside, and see several firetrucks, with firemen hooking up hoses to the hydrant in front of our house, and going down the street a couple of houses. I get dressed, and go outside. There's smoke coming from the ridge vents of the house 2 doors down. It's still under construction, so nobody lives there yes. I walk around to my backyard, and see firemen forcefully removing the outside back wall of the house to reveal glowing embers, and see much more smoke coming from the whole back of the house.
There were at least 20 firefighters that showed up for the call. I counted 6 trucks, and an EMS unit, as well as a few other cars (presumably fire chiefs and other such folks). Had the house gone up in flames, there would have been enough people (in my uneducated estimation) to take care of it, and protect nearby houses as well.
I go back inside, and talk to Wife. Seems around 6:00pm yesterday, she was going to get the mail (the mailbox for our street is in front of the house that was smoldering), and saw flashes of light coming from what she thought was the back of that house, or perhaps from behind the house. Since that entire end of the street is under construction, she thought nothing of it. My guess is that an electrical short started something smoldering. By 6:00am, they had taken care of things, packed up, and gone back.
After breakfast, I went over to see the damage. Half of the back of the first floor of the house had been removed, and about 3-4 feet of the first floor along with it, (presumably revealing the basement; I didn't get that close as that particular yard had no grass and was all mud). It looked like the house had been drywalled, but not painted, and that there was quite a mess to be cleaned up.
Coming back inside, we talked to Son and Daughter, to make sure that they knew what to do and where to go in case we have a similar problem. We'll be doing some fire drills with them in the next few days.
Thank you, Ephrata (PA) (and nearby) (and all other) firefighters, for handling what turned out to be a fairly minor event.