Illegal fireworks likely cause of July 4 apartment fire in Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 12, 2013 

APTFIRE

Jacob Thrien, 5, from Richmond, British Columbia, stands in back of his neighbors destroyed apartment Friday, July 5, 2013, in Bellingham. Thrien, who is staying with his father two doors down, was celebrating his first fourth of July at the beach while the fire consumed the two apartments next door to his.

DANIEL PICKARD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - Illegal fireworks are believed to be the cause of a July 4 fire that affected three units in a Bellingham apartment building, according to the Whatcom County Fire Marshal's Office.

The fire started at about 10:20 p.m. July 4 on the back porch of a unit in the Westwind Townhomes complex, 3427 Alderwood Ave.

Investigators believe that an illegal firework landed on combustible items on the unit's back porch, starting a fire that caused $250,000 in damage to the building's structure and contents.

The Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross was assisting with temporary housing needs for resident Tony Johnson, who was displaced and lost furniture and other belongings in the fire. Donations to help her can be made to the Tony Johnson fund at Whatcom Educational Credit Union.

The fire is still under investigation by detectives with the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, but fire inspector Mitch Nolze said he didn't know if charges would result because the amount of fireworks going off in the area at the time might make the source difficult to pinpoint.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher Blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or follow us on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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