Authorities suspect an arsonist set fire to a vacant 12-by-14-foot cabin late Thursday, Dec. 12, west of Lynden, almost killing a man sleeping next door.
Around 7:30 p.m. neighbors reported flames coming from Cabin No. 7 at 866 Birch Bay-Lynden Road. On the one-acre property there's a U-shaped group of 18 cabins, centered around a large communal bathroom.
Fire briefly spread to the nearest cabin - about 6 feet away - but a young man sleeping inside awoke from the commotion and escaped, said North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Chief Ron Anderson. The man wasn't hurt. A woman who lives with him, in Cabin No. 8, came home while the fire was being fought.
The first cabin was destroyed. Flames spread to the eaves of the neighboring cabin, and firefighters had to pull down the ceiling to extinguish the fire. Siding on Cabin No. 8 was badly damaged from the heat.
Firefighters remained on scene for about two hours.
Cabin No. 7 had been occupied about a week earlier. But the resident moved out - and into another cabin - because of freezing pipes, Anderson said.
Burn patterns on the floor left authorities confident someone used an accelerant to start the fire. Lab tests will determine the nature of the accelerant, Whatcom County fire investigator Mitch Nolze said.
The investigation remained active Friday. No suspects have been arrested or named. Nolze noted several key people still needed to be interviewed.
In Washington, setting fire to a dwelling is arson in the first degree.