An elderly Whatcom County man and one of his dogs died in a house fire this weekend on Mosquito Lake Road.
Neighbors called 911 after 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, when they heard explosions coming from the single-story house at 5422 Mosquito Lake Road, said Fire District 14 Chief Jerry DeBruin.
About three-quarters of the home was aflame by the time firefighters arrived. They found an elderly man, believed to be the homeowner, dead at the scene, DeBruin said. Authorities declined to confirm his name Monday, but the county assessor lists the homeowner as resident Andre Anctil, 76.
The man owned oxygen tanks - the likely cause of the explosions - that have become the focus of the investigation, DeBruin said. It's not clear how long the house had been burning before someone noticed and called 911.
"But if there was an explosion that started it, that's almost like a bomb going off," DeBruin said.
The man had been known to smoke while using oxygen, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel. An autopsy has been scheduled for Wednesday.
A phone call to fire investigator Will Anderson hadn't been returned as of Monday evening.
One of the man's dogs died in the fire. Several other dogs were taken in by neighbors in the immediate aftermath.