Crime

Explosion, fire injure Bellingham man; damage Sehome home

Drug lab explodes in Bellingham house

A Bellingham, Washington man was severely burned in an explosion and fire at a 1150 Ellis St. triplex on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Police said small canisters of butane and 200 ounces of marijuana were found inside; they suspect a drug lab was in ope
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A Bellingham, Washington man was severely burned in an explosion and fire at a 1150 Ellis St. triplex on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Police said small canisters of butane and 200 ounces of marijuana were found inside; they suspect a drug lab was in ope

An explosion and fire injured a Bellingham man and displaced four other tenants of a Sehome neighborhood house about 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17.

“There were reports of butane containers involved,” said Battalion Chief Cary Gustafson of the Bellingham Fire Department. “When we arrived, the patient was outside and we had a very small fire on the second floor landing. We did not enter the structure, we extinguished the fire that we could see from the outside.”

Because of the threat of further explosions and possible hazardous gases, Gustafson consulted the Whatcom County hazardous materials team by phone. After assessing the situation, Gustafson said firefighters were sent back inside to make sure the flames were out and that the fire hadn’t extended into the attic and walls.

Gustafson said the victim, identified by building tenants only as Jason, was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital. Information on his condition was not immediately known Monday night.

Tenants and neighbors said he was burned on his head, chest, back and arms.

“His skin was hanging off his arms in rags,” said Veronica Saibel, who lives in one of the three units at 1150 Ellis St.

“We heard this like loud kind of banging noise,” Saibel said. “I looked outside the window at our neighbor’s house and the whole side of their house was sort of lit up bright orange, and I knew that that was fire.”

Saibel said the blast blew out a window. Other tenants said small containers were blown through the ceiling into their apartments.

“I asked him if he was all right and then I realized of course that he was covered in burns,” Saibel said. “He said that something exploded.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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