Alert letter carrier, neighbor help save burning Geneva home

GENEVA — An vigilant postal worker and a quick-thinking neighbor likely saved a Geneva-area home from burning to the ground when an unattended pot of hummingbird feeder solution ignited Saturday afternoon, Oct. 4.

The letter carrier, whose name wasn’t available Sunday, noticed smoke billowing from the eaves and gable vents of a single-story house in the 3900 block of West Cedarbrook Court, north of Lakeway Drive, said Fire Chief Dave Ralston of South Whatcom Fire Authority.

“They had a very alert postman,” Ralston said. “Considering what occurred and how bad it could’ve been ... had it been a couple of minutes longer, they would’ve lost the house.”

Ralston said the letter carrier banged on the door but got no response and hurried to nearby homes to summon help.

A neighbor called 911 at 2:53 p.m., then ran to the backyard, where he saw smoke billowing from the kitchen window. The neighbor, whose name also wasn’t available, took a garden hose and sprayed water into the kitchen through the open window, Ralston said.

Coincidentally, two South Whatcom engine companies were training at nearby Station 21 and arrived with an engine, water tender, ambulance and command vehicle within five minutes of the 911 call, Ralston said. Firefighters made an offensive attack, deploying hose into the kitchen and limiting fire extension.

Bellingham Fire’s Engine 4 arrived shortly after, connecting to a water supply and providing backup for the interior firefighting crews, Ralston said. Some 15 firefighters were on scene.

Ralston said the fire was caused by a pot on the stove that was cooking a solution for the homeowner’s hummingbird feeder. The homeowner left, forgetting that the stove was on.

Damage to the home was estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, with the most extensive damage to the stove, a microwave, cabinets and ceiling.

“They didn’t have to flow a lot of water, and we were able to minimize the smoke damage,” Ralston said. He said firefighters did have to cut into cabinets and ceiling to make sure the flames hadn’t extended into the attic.

No injuries were reported, and the homeowner’s cat was found hiding under a couch, where it had taken refuge.