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Video released by police shows person in alley behind Hohl building before fire

Security camera videos capture ‘person of interest’ in Bellingham fire

Bellingham Police are trying to identify a "person of interest" seen in this security camera footage before a fire destroyed the historic Hohl Feed & Seed store early Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.
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Bellingham Police are trying to identify a "person of interest" seen in this security camera footage before a fire destroyed the historic Hohl Feed & Seed store early Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.

A day after saying Monday morning’s devastating Hohl Feed & Seed fire started under suspicious circumstances in the alley behind the historic downtown building, Bellingham Police on Thursday released surveillance video of a person of interest in the alley right before the flames that ultimately destroyed the building were visible.

The video, which Lt. Claudia Murphy said was from approximately 4:04 a.m., was shot from the back of D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano, which sits across the alley from the Hohl building.

The video appears to show one person wearing dark clothing enter along the alley and stop near the back of the Hohl building. A short time later a white glow is seen next to the building before the person walks away toward East Magnolia Street.

A second camera along East Magnolia shows the person cross the street, walking within sight of a second person, who appears to be wearing a red hat.

While police are looking to identify the person wearing dark clothing who was in the alley behind the building, Murphy said they’d also like to speak to the person in the red hat, who may be able to identify the person in dark clothing or saw the fire start in the alley.

Investigators are asking anybody with information about the fire or who was in the area before the fire to contact Detective Kelsh at 360-778-8690. Tips also can be submitted on the Bellingham Police Tip line at 360-778-8611 or online at cob.org/tips.

As previously reported in The Herald, fire crews arrived shortly after 4:20 a.m. Monday to find the alley-side of the building that was built in 1902 in flames. Crews had difficulty accessing the second story from inside and were forced to pull back and fight the blaze defensively. The fire also spread to a second, newer building and an old granary behind the building that were both part of Hohl Feed & Seed.

Firefighters were able to rescue 78 animals from the fire, though crews were not able to get to approximately 10 birds and a snake.

Hohl Feed & Seed has anchored Railroad Avenue since it was founded in 1901, providing Whatcom County a variety of pet and animal products.

Hohl Feed & Seed on the 1300 block of Railroad Avenue in Bellingham was destroyed by a two-alarm fire. According to Bellingham Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Hewett, crews responded to the blaze at 4:20 a.m.

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.
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