Fire damages Bellingham apartment complex

Watch firefighters battle fire at Samish Ridge Apartments in Bellingham

Firefighters battle a fire at Samish Ridge Apartments on Friday, July 22, in Bellingham.
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Firefighters battle a fire at Samish Ridge Apartments on Friday, July 22, in Bellingham.

A fire burned a third-floor apartment with a dog inside Friday afternoon, July 22, at Samish Ridge Apartments in Bellingham.

Neighbors smelled something burning – like a lit match, or burning plastic – before thick smoke started rising at 4 p.m. from a balcony in the northwest corner of the 16-unit building at 3962 Byron Ave. A resident of the building next door, Taylor Hennessey, 23, said she came home to a yellow-gray wall of smoke in the parking lot.

About a minute later, at 4:06 p.m., firefighters reached the scene to find flames in an attic space above Apt. No. 305, said Assistant Fire Chief Rob Kintzele. A plume of deep gray smoke could be seen from downtown Bellingham.

A 30- to 40-pound mutt in a kennel was rescued from the burning unit, firefighters said. The dog could walk without help, but had black mucus coming from his nose. The dog needed treatment at a local animal hospital.

No humans were hurt.

The complex is one of the few pet-friendly apartments in town. As firefighters doused the smoke and heat, a woman in the southwest corner of the burning building searched for a missing cat in her unit. Tenants walked confused dogs on leashes in the parking lot as the smoke dissipated.

By 4:20 p.m. fire crews had the flames under control, though firefighters continued to spray hot spots for at least an hour. Only one unit took direct flame damage, Kintzele said. Two people live there.

Neighboring units took relatively minor smoke and water damage. Residents of at least four apartments were displaced for the night, said Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett. Management at Samish Ridge was helping tenants to find temporary housing, he added.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. The balcony was expected to be the focus of an investigation early on. A city fire marshal was just starting to look around the burned unit Friday evening.

So far damage is expected to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb