BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham man awoke to heavy smoke and the blaring of smoke alarms in his bedroom early Wednesday, March 6.
Kyler Frydenlund, 25, grabbed a fire extinguisher and did what he could to put out the flames in the wall and ceiling of his rented house at 2338 Humboldt St. But the fire was too big for him to handle alone.
A woman drove by at 4:30 a.m. - probably on her way to a morning workout at the gym, Frydenlund said. She saw smoke curling along the eaves of the pale blue one-story house. Flames never broke through the roof.
"So there was actually enough smoke that she stopped," Frydenlund said.
She called 911. Frydenlund got outside unscathed. Quickly, firefighters knocked down the brunt of the blaze in the attic, but the fire had spread through the walls and vents. They struggled to extinguish the stubborn lingering flames, said Bellingham Fire Chief Roger Christensen.
Firefighters were still putting together a property damage estimate. For now, the house doesn't appear to be livable, Christensen added. From the street the house doesn't show any obvious signs of damage, except for some small charred strips of wood tossed in the hedges by the front door.
As for the cause of the fire, investigators have zeroed in on some old, damaged knob-and-tube wiring in the attic. Some rat droppings were found nearby, so it's possible the rats chewed the wires.
Firefighters returned to the scene at 2 p.m. after a neighbor reported more smoke drifting from the eaves. Trapped heat in blown-in insulation rekindled the fire, Christensen said. This time, however, it was much smaller and took only a few minutes to extinguish. An infrared camera hadnt tipped firefighters off to the trapped heat, the fire chief added, because the insulation was apparently pretty effective at containing warmth.
Frydenlund, a student in Western Washington University's general studies program, had lived at the house for almost two years. He said he plans to ask the school about any vacant dorm rooms. But if that doesn't work, he said, he'll be flopping on an air mattress at friends' houses until he figures out his next move.