Crime

Fire destroys Maple Falls mobile home after residents awaken to smoke, escape

A fire tore through a mobile home north of Kendall on Thursday morning, sending a man to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters with Whatcom County Fire District 14 were sent to the home at 7915 Apache Drive in Maple Falls about 8:45 a.m., said Chief Jerry DeBruin. When they arrived, they saw flames and heavy smoke pouring from the windows of an attachment on the home. The fire then spread to the main part of the home, he said.

Two people were inside, DeBruin said: a man and his granddaughter. Both awoke to the smoke and ran out the front door. If there were smoke detectors inside, DeBruin said, they weren’t working. The man was taken to St. Joseph hospital.

Crews put the fire out in about 20 minutes, he said, and took at least another two hours to finish putting out hot spots. The home, DeBruin said, was a total loss.

Investigators believe the cause was related to a wood-burning stove in the attachment where the fire and smoke were heaviest, DeBruin said.

Thursday’s fire was similar to another one in Bellingham on Monday night, DeBruin said. Both fires tore through single-wide mobile homes, and, in both cases, occupants woke to smoke in the house, rather than awakening to the sound of smoke detectors.

Officials who worked on both fires said the occupants were fortunate to escape. At the height of the cold season, when many people are using extra heaters, it’s important to check them regularly and to make sure smoke detectors are functioning, DeBruin said.

“We worry about that this time of year,” he added. “Everybody is running those extra heaters and they can just be a disaster.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

Heating safety tips:

▪ Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from heating equipment such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and portable space heaters.

▪ Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

▪ Never use your oven to heat your home.

▪ Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

▪ Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

▪ Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

▪ Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.

▪ Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before being placed in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

▪ Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

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