A two-alarm fire destroyed a kayak manufacturing building on Kline Road east of Guide Meridian Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28, but no one was injured in the blaze.
Giant plumes of black smoke could be seen miles from Sterling Kayaks, 310 Kline Road, shortly after the fire was reported at about 12:45 p.m.
Crews from Bellingham Fire Department arrived about five minutes later to find flames and heavy, dark smoke pouring from the 100-by-60-foot building, said John Swobody, division chief from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue.
Multiple water tankers were brought in from several districts to help battle the blaze, but it quickly became an operation to limit it to the single building. Firefighters kept it from spreading, with only heat damage to a nearby car shop building.
Because the materials inside the building included hazardous liquids, crews let the fire burn itself out to keep runoff into a nearby stream to a minimum, Swobody said. Once the fire began to die down, crews worked to put out hot spots to prevent it from spreading.
Business owner Sterling Donalson said he was inside the building when the fire began. He said he smelled something odd and saw smoke coming from an electrical socket. As soon as he realized there were flames, he got out as quickly as he could, yelling Fire! in case anyone else was inside.
His two employees were not in the building at the time.
Based on the smell and what he saw, Donalson said an electrical problem might have started the fire. Donalson rents the building; the owner was on scene but declined to comment.
Donalson and his employee Steve Staeber watched as the fire ravaged the building until it collapsed.
Im in a state of shock at the moment, Donalson said.
They were able to save a few boats from a trailer next to the building, but everything inside kayak molds, equipment and the companys latest project was destroyed.
Its all gone, he said. All gone.
Donalson said it was too soon to think about what his next steps will be with the business. Sterling Kayaks is well-known in the local boating world, and its kayak Reflection was listed by Outside magazine as one of the seven best boats of summer 2012.