Cause unclear for mobile home fire east of Deming

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

DEMING - A doublewide mobile home east of Deming caught fire late Sunday, May 18, and burned before firefighters could extinguish it.

Neighbors heard an explosion around 11:30 p.m. - what turned out to be a propane tank overheated by an already blazing fire - inside a mobile home in the 5500 block of Rutsatz Road. They called 911.

"Half of the home was on fire when I got there," said Whatcom County Fire District 16 Chief Elvin Kalsbeek. "So it was already gone."

Firefighters found out a man staying in a trailer next to the house wasn't home. And some tenants who had lived in the mobile home, a doublewide on tribal trust land, had just moved out. So once firefighters confirmed no one was inside, they focused on keeping the flames from spreading to nearby property.

It took about four hours to extinguish. No one was hurt.

Burn patterns suggest the fire started between the front door and the center of the doublewide, said Mitch Nolze, a fire investigator with the county fire marshal's office. But authorities haven't been able to confirm the cause or exact point of origin.

"We wouldn't rule out an incendiary arson fire," Nolze said. "But we can't rule out an accidental fire, either."

The man staying in the trailer had been storing a lot of his property in the house. The Mount Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross donated necessities to him and will continue to help out as he back on his feet.

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

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