A Whatcom County man who went to check on his horses for a few minutes Monday, Jan. 7, returned to find his double-wide mobile home swallowed by flames.
Investigators suspect food left on an unattended hot burner at 1854 Burk Road might have started the fire, but the official cause remains under investigation, said North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Division Chief John Swobody.
Smoke and flames were first reported at 11:28 a.m. By the time fire engines rolled up, flames had spread through the roof above the kitchen and about half of the 44-foot-by-27-foot mobile home.
The man was not hurt; his wife was away at the time, Swobody said.
After knocking down the brunt of the fire in about 20 minutes, firefighters battled the lingering flames - taking a defensive approach, to keep it from spreading - for the next three hours. Hotspots kept cropping up in the floors and difficult-to-reach parts of the home.
In the end, the frame and the walls were left standing, but little else could be salvaged.
"These mobile homes, they burn so fast, so rapidly, it's hard to save anything at all," Swobody said.
The Whatcom County Assessor's Office pegged the value of the home, a detached garage and the property at about $82,000.
Friends of the couple have offered them a place to stay while they get back on their feet.