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‘It’s pretty overwhelming,’ couple says of Wednesday fire that claimed dog and home

Whatcom home a total loss in fire

A Whatcom County, Wash., couple lost their home and dog in a June 5, 2019 fire. Flames were showing when North Whatcom Fire and Rescue was called and the home was a total loss.
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A Whatcom County, Wash., couple lost their home and dog in a June 5, 2019 fire. Flames were showing when North Whatcom Fire and Rescue was called and the home was a total loss.

A Whatcom County couple lost their dog and home during a fire Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters with North Whatcom Fire and Rescue were called to the 6500 block of Tut Terrace for the report of flames showing from a house around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Division Chief Jason Vanderveen. When crews arrived, the house was well-involved, Vanderveen said.

Shelby Cammack, 20, said she and her fiance, Scott Kimbrough, 22, have owned the one-story, two-bedroom house for almost two years. She said one of her neighbors called while she was at work to say their house was on fire. When Cammack got home, there were numerous fire trucks and firefighters were working to put out the blaze.

Vanderveen said crews were on scene for several hours, but the house was a total loss. Cammack and Kimbrough also learned Baker, one of their dogs, had died in the fire.

Cammack and Kimbrough had three dogs, including Baker, a 6-year-old Dalmatian they had adopted a few months ago. Their two other dogs usually were outside during the day, but Baker liked to be inside, Cammack said.

A teenage neighbor saw the couple’s home on fire and rescued the two other dogs, but didn’t know Baker was inside.

“The girl didn’t know there was another dog inside, so she didn’t even try, which I’m kind of glad she didn’t just because it’s dangerous and she’s just a teenager,” Cammack said. “It’s pretty overwhelming. We’re really upset about the loss of our pet and our house.”

Two chickens survived and the couples’ cats also eventually came home, Cammack said.

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A Whatcom County couple lost their home and dog in a Wednesday fire. Flames were showing when North Whatcom Fire and Rescue was called and the home was a total loss. Denver Pratt The Bellingham Herald

In addition to losing their pet and home, they also lost all of their wedding decorations and supplies. Cammack and Kimbrough are set to be married July 13, and Cammack said she had all their wedding decorations piled in a corner of the living room.

Cammack said they lost everything, including their wedding rings. She said she wasn’t wearing hers because she had just taken it to the jeweler and because the wedding was so close.

Cammack’s dress is still at the place she took it to be fitted. A woman who owns a wedding venue messaged Kimbrough after news of the fire spread and said she was willing to let the couple borrow some of her decorations. Cammack said the invitations have been sent, so they’re still planning on holding the wedding.

“The sense of community just coming around us, there are so many people that are willing to help, it’s kind of shocking and just makes me want to cry. We’ve got no clothes left … but the room that’s not a room anymore, that was our room. So there’s nothing left in there.”

Will Anderson, a fire investigator with the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s office, said there was too much damage to make a determination about what caused the fire.

“The fire burned long enough it had a structural collapse in the back,” Anderson said.

Anderson estimates the damage to be around $100,000.

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A Whatcom County couple lost their home and dog in a Wednesday fire. Flames were showing when North Whatcom Fire and Rescue was called and the home was a total loss. Denver Pratt The Bellingham Herald

Kimbrough said it’s strange to come home to nothing.

“It’s weird not being able to go brush your teeth with your toothbrush. Like oh yeah, I got deodorant in the … oh I don’t have a house anymore. What do you do though — just keep moving,” Kimbrough said.

The couple had a roommate, who was not home at the time, and some of her things made it through the fire, they said.

Cammack said they’ve filed a claim with their insurance company and were just waiting to hear. In the meantime, they’ll stay with Kimbrough’s family who live nearby. The couple said they hope to rebuild on their property.

Cammack and Kimbrough said they believe they’ll be OK, and that things will come together.

“With the people that have kind of come and rallied around us, just appreciate everybody that’s in your life and anybody that’s willing to help. Be grateful for the people who are there to support you,” Cammack said. “There’s nothing greater than family.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Cammack and Kimbrough. As of Thursday at 4 p.m., they had already raised their $3,000 goal in a little more than 12 hours.

Spelling of Shelby Cammack’s name corrected June 18, 2019.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.