Hohl Feed & Seed on Railroad Avenue in downtown Bellingham was destroyed early Monday morning by a two-alarm fire.
According to Bellingham Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Hewett, crews responded to the blaze at 4:20 a.m. in the 1300 block of Railroad Avenue and found the backside of the Hohl building toward the alley in flames.
“They tried to make entry, but it was an old building, built in 1902,” Hewett told The Bellingham Herald. “They had difficulty making it to the second story of the building from the interior, so they were forced to pull back out and fight the fire defensively.”
Hewett said crews did manage to save some animals from the store, and transfer them to the Whatcom Humane Society for care and temporary shelter, but he was unsure if any were unable to be rescued. No people were thought to be in the building at the time of the fire.
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Puget Sound Energy is reporting 196 businesses were affected by the outage and traffic lights were are out on some downtown streets. Hewett said the power was turned out as a precaution while three ladder trucks were operating in the area and that PSE was working to restore power to businesses outside the 1300 block of Railroad Avenue.
According to a tweet from the Bellingham Police Department, Railroad Avenue between Holly Street and Magnolia Street is closed.
The WTA tweeted that the bus stop on Magnolia Street and Garden Street is closed due to the fire department setting up a detour around the area.
Hewett said flames spread to a second, newer building to the south of the original building but still part of Hohl and a granary that was behind that building, but a firewall helped prevent it from spreading further to other businesses on the block, including Clark’s Feed and Seed.
“The second floor of Hohl was gutted, and the building was destroyed,” Hewett told The Herald. “The second building and the granary tower also were destroyed. Those two buildings, I would say, are a total loss.”
Hewett said fire crews, which included help from South Whatcom Fire Authority, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue and Whatcom County Fire District 7, remain on scene taking care of hotspots.
Hohl Feed & Seed has anchored Railroad Avenue since it was founded in 1901, providing Whatcom County a variety of pet and animal products, according to an earlier story in The Herald.