Ferndale High grad died in Columbia neighborhood fire


BELLINGHAM - A teenager who died in a fire in the Columbia neighborhood has been identified by family as Adam Lavine.

An autopsy Thursday, Dec. 5, suggested the 19-year-old man died from smoke inhalation, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel.

Police are "99.9 percent sure" of the man's identity but want to confirm it through dental records, said Sgt. Jason Monson. Until then, police decline to release his name.

Friends and family, however, started a memorial fund on behalf of Lavine, a 2012 graduate of Ferndale High School.

The fire broke out early Wednesday, Dec. 4, in an upstairs bedroom at 2627 Utter St.

A 23-year-old man, Kyle Sanchez, a son of the homeowner, fell asleep with several candles burning upright on his bed, near papers and clothes, said Bellingham Fire Marshal Jason Napier. He awoke around 4:30 a.m. to find the flames had spread to his bed.

The only smoke alarm in the home was located 15 feet away, but it had no batteries. He ran downstairs and shouted, waking everyone in the house. He hadn't been hurt while asleep but suffered burns when he ran back to his room with a pot of water to fight the flames, Napier said.

His younger brother, Leroy, 14, had been sleeping on the bed, while Lavine - a guest at the house for the past month - slept on the floor. They awoke from shouts of "Fire!" By the time they got up, Leroy saw the smoke was too thick to flee downstairs. So he climbed through the window to the roof.

But for some reason, Lavine wouldn't follow, Napier said. Leroy grabbed onto the gutter. He dropped to safety, hurting himself in the fall.

Flames devoured the home. The walls of a home next door warped from the heat.

The homeowner, 57-year-old Helen M. Sanchez, who also goes by the last name Lawrence, and her 10-year-old daughter escaped unharmed. Her two sons needed treatment at St. Joseph hospital. Kyle was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he remained Thursday in serious condition.

Lavine died long before firefighters could reach him in the bedroom, Goldfogel said.

A fund to pay for funeral expenses, the "Adam Lavine Memorial Fund," has been set up on gofundme.com. Friends set up an account for survivors of the fire at Whatcom Educational Credit Union branches, under the "Lawrence Family Fund."

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