Firefighters keep garage fire from spreading at Bellingham duplex

Firefighters sift through debris to make sure the fire is out at 2906 Orleans St. on Sunday evening, Aug. 21.
Firefighters sift through debris to make sure the fire is out at 2906 Orleans St. on Sunday evening, Aug. 21. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Fire gutted a garage and damaged part of a duplex in the lower Mount Baker neighborhood Sunday, Aug. 21.

No injuries were reported in the 7:12 p.m. fire at 2906 Orleans St., just north of East Illinois Street, said Assistant Chief Bill Hewett of the Bellingham Fire Department.

“Somebody on the street saw smoke coming from the garage,” Hewett said. The first engine company arrived just in time to keep the flames from causing further damage, he said.

All in all, it was a good stop.

Assistant Chief Bill Hewett, Bellingham Fire Department

Posts on social media showed a column of black smoke billowing from the neighborhood before firefighters arrived.

“Smoke and flames were rolling out of the garage,” Hewett said. “They’d gone up the side of the building and broken a window on the second story. Our crews pulled a pre-connect (hose from a fire engine) and knocked down the main body of the fire” from outside. “Luckily, we were able to knock the fire out before it traveled into the building,” he said.

Hewett said the cause of the fire was unknown pending an investigation, but flames appear to have been sparked in vegetation outside the garage. He estimated damages at $50,000, mostly to the one-car garage and its contents of household items belonging to the seven residents in that half of the duplex.

“All in all, it was a good stop,” Hewett said, using fire service slang for efforts that save a building from irreparable damage. “And a good job to the residents for getting out and staying out,” he said.

He said firefighters remained on scene for some time conducting “overhaul,” that is, sifting through the debris to make sure no embers remained.

Hewett said Red Cross officials were assisting nine residents who were displaced from the units – seven at 2906 Orleans St. and two at the adjacent unit, 2908 Orleans St. Hewett said the living areas suffered smoke damage but that they should be habitable soon.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty