Body of elderly man found in Whatcom County home destroyed by fire

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The body of an 89-year-old Whatcom County man was found in a Glenhaven home that was destroyed by fire late Thursday.

According to information provided by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kevin Hester, the Whatcom County Medical Examiner has assumed jurisdiction of the deceased. The identity, cause and manner of death have not yet been released, and Dr. Gary Goldfogel said that he probably will not be able to confirm the identity before Monday.

The lone resident of the home was male, Whatcom County Fire Inspector Mitch Nolze said.

“The cause is still under investigation,” Nolze said Friday. “We’re looking at the wood stove and heating or electrical devices as causes and trying to narrow it down. We have no reason to believe anything suspicious went on. It was likely an accident.”

Crews from Whatcom County Fire District 18 and South Whatcom Fire responded at 11:50 p.m. to the 700 block of Wendell Way after a neighbor spotted the fire in the split-level house and reported it, District 18 Chief Omar Mejia said.

“It was fully involved by the time I got there, and we had engines on scene about five minutes after we got the call,” Mejia said.

Though Mejia said the fire was pretty straight forward, crews had to wait until the integrity of the structure could be confirmed before going in. Once it was, he said they located the body of what they believe to be the resident in an upstairs room.

“It’s always an unfortunate event when you recover a body,” said Mejia, who added that the home was a complete loss.

Nolze said the fire was the latest in what has been a busy week for Whatcom County fire crews during the recent cold snap.

“The (public service announcement) to get out there is for people during the winter to check their fire alarms — make sure they’re working and they have one in every room,” Nolze said. “Same thing goes for carbon monoxide alarms. And you want to make sure your wood stoves and fireplaces are maintained and clean and that your heating appliances are kept good distances away from combustibles.

“We see an increase in the number of fires during the winter time. The storm comes in, people get cold and we’ve seen a fire every day this week.”

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.