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Fire destroys home east of Custer

Firefighters hose down the smoldering frame of a one-story house in the 7500 block of Woodland Road, east of Custer, that caught fire shortly before noon Friday, June 4.
Firefighters hose down the smoldering frame of a one-story house in the 7500 block of Woodland Road, east of Custer, that caught fire shortly before noon Friday, June 4. The Bellingham Herald

A woman escaped a house fire Friday, June 5, east of Custer, but her home was destroyed.

The middle-aged woman fled the single-story home around 11:40 a.m. as smoke started to billow from 7592 Woodland Road. A dark pillar of smoke could be seen six miles due south in Ferndale, and from downtown Lynden, about eight miles to the northeast, when Lynden Assistant Fire Chief Robert Spinner left the fire station on Fourth Street.

The flames had been blazing for at least 10 minutes by the time Spinner, in the first arriving engine, reached the scene. Firefighters found the woman unharmed, waiting at the end of a 400-foot driveway. She told them no one else was inside.

Spinner found the attached one-car garage already burned down to its frame, and intense flames shooting skyward through the roof of the house. The roof collapsed as Spinner started walking around the building. For the next hour or so firefighters — from Lynden, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, and District 7 — fought the flames but could not save much.

Everything burned. Blackened photo frames hung off-kilter on the walls, and threads of electrical wiring drooped from the charred studs. Warped and mangled deck chair frames littered what was left of the front porch, while firefighters slowly but surely beat down the smoldering flames, for another hour or so, with water from a small fleet of tender trucks parked on the lawn.

A propane tank around back did not explode, though firefighters feared it might, until things got under control. A pump house on the west side, by a 75-by-100-foot orchard, was saved, too.

The house had a value of about $96,000, according to assessor’s records. It was built in the early 1980s.

Early on Mitch Nolze, from the county fire marshal’s office, said witness accounts led him to think the garage could be the fire’s point of origin, but he hadn’t had a chance to survey the damage up close yet. The cause remains under investigation.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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