Fire burns renters out of home south of Lynden

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 8, 2014 

A house fire south of Lynden left a family of three homeless Wednesday, Jan. 8.

The renters weren't home at 11:39 a.m. when neighbors noticed smoke rising from the eaves of the home at 281 Pollman Circle, said Whatcom County Fire and Rescue Division Chief John Swobody. Flames were tearing through the front wall, adjacent to the kitchen, when the first of three fire engines arrived.

Firefighters knocked down the fire within five minutes, Swobody said. But by that time, heavy smoke had permeated the home, leaving it unlivable for now.

Nobody was harmed. It will take time-consuming repairs to fix the 1,350-square-foot home, Swobody said, but it's not a total loss. Many belongings inside should be salvageable, according to firefighters.

The family, a young couple with a child, came home later in the afternoon. The parents had been at work, said Mitch Nolze, a Whatcom County fire investigator. They told authorities they moved fireplace ashes to a garbage can Wednesday morning. They thought the ashes from the morning fire had cooled off. But investigators suspect they rekindled and spread to the rest of the kitchen. The fire has been ruled an accident.

The Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross volunteered to help the family find temporary housing.

Nolze urged people to dispose of ashes in a fireproof container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from buildings, he said, then wait 48 to 72 hours before throwing out the ashes for good.

Reach Caleb Hutton at caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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