Cigarette apparently ignites backpack at Whatcom Community College


BELLINGHAM - A Whatcom Community College student got a lesson in fire safety Friday, May 2, when her backpack began smoldering inside the campus administration building, prompting momentary confusion and a 911 call.

The student, whose name wasn't released, was stubbing out her cigarette when it apparently ignited her pack as she entered the Laidlaw Center on West Kellogg Road about 10:30 a.m. Friday, said Mary Vermillion, the college's public information officer.

"To the best of her knowledge, a burning ember fell on her backpack," Vermillion said.

Her pack began to smolder, and a Bellingham Fire engine company was dispatched to investigate a report of "smoke in a building," said Chief Bill Newbold. Newbold said the fire was extinguished before firefighters arrived.

No injuries or damage to campus facilities were reported.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or

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