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‘From my perspective, it looks like somebody set this fire,’ Whatcom fire chief says

A vacant Whatcom County house southeast of Sumas was a total loss Monday evening after a fire that Whatcom County Fire District 14 crews said they found suspicious.

Firefighters responded to the residential fire at 10:19 p.m. in the 9500 block of Sumas Road to find a vacant, single-story house built in 1910 fully involved in flames.

“It was an older home that had quite a few additions,” District 14 Chief Jerry Debruin told The Bellingham Herald in an interview Tuesday. “Nobody was living there, and it’s been up for sale for a quite a while now.”

Debruin said that the fire started on the back, or east, side of the house near some brush and other flammable items close to the house and where it could be fanned by northeast winds blowing between 25 and 30 mph Monday night.

“From my perspective, it looks like somebody set this fire,” Debruin said. “It started in a perfect place where there was brush and things that could catch fire.”

Debruin said the District 14 crews were able to knock down the flames, but struggled with the house’s old construction, which included shiplap, false spaces, little extra rooms and a carport.

“The structure is still standing, but it’s a total loss,” Debruin said.

Whatcom County fire inspector Will Anderson in an interview Tuesday with The Bellingham Herald estimated total damages at $100,000 and said the cause of the fire is undetermined and it remains under investigation.

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