A Whatcom County man died in an apparent electrical fire that consumed his home late Saturday night, Feb. 16, in a rural area southwest of Lynden.
Sheriff Bill Elfo confirmed that a 72-year-old man died in the fire at 1395 Willeys Lake Road, near the intersection of Birch Bay-Lynden Road and North Enterprise Road.
Elfo said he did not know the man's name, but that his relatives had been notified. Cause of the fire remained under investigation by the Whatcom Country Fire Marshal's Office, but Elfo said it appeared to be electrical in nature and did not seem suspicious.
"His wife came home from shopping and discovered the fire," Elfo said.
Elfo said the man had built the house himself in 1965. It was listed at online real-estate sites as a one-story home of 1,440 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom, valued at $258,000.
North Whatcom Fire and Rescue sent three engine companies to fight the fire, which was dispatched at 9:32 p.m. Saturday, said Assistant Chief Jeff Hofstad. He said the first floor was "about 75 percent" engulfed in flames as the crew of Engine 71 arrived from their station on 19th Street in Lynden.
"When they arrived, they found the first floor had collapsed into the basement and that hindered the operation," said Hofstad, who was duty officer and incident commander.
It was a defensive effort from the start, and crews were unable to enter until the fire was extinguished, when the body was found.
Also hampering firefighters was the lack of hydrants in the area, requiring the use of several water tenders, which are large trucks that typically carry 3,000 gallons or more of water, Hofstad said. Fire engines carry much less water, and a fire that large is difficult to fight without a constant water supply.
About 20 to 25 firefighters worked through the night, Hofstad said. No injuries were reported to firefighters or other emergency personnel.
ROBERT MITTENDORF is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Reach him at 360-756-2805 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.