Bellingham woman comes home to find house on fire

No one was hurt by a fire that damaged a two-story Bellingham house Tuesday evening, Jan. 27, on Franklin Street.

Brian Rose, 21, a Western Washington University student who lives on Franklin Street, was walking home when he saw smoke and the glow of flames from a distance. For a moment he thought his home was on fire.

“I was a little shaken up,” he said. “It was just getting more and more intense.”

It turned out to be a next-door neighbor’s house, a faded yellow wood-frame home facing an alley at 1217 Franklin St. Rose could see smoke and flames rolling from the second-story window. The flames shot out well above the roof, Rose said. Other witnesses described them as at least 20 feet tall.

Rose called 9-1-1 at 5:19 p.m.

Firefighters from the Indian Street fire station arrived in four minutes. They sprayed water through the upper window until backup arrived, said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett. Then they went inside to attack the fire. The flames were under control by 5:31 p.m., though heavy smoke billowed out the window for another half-hour or so, until the fire was totally put out.

A bedroom on the second floor took most of the damage, Hewett said.

The home’s only resident, a woman in her 40s, came home with her small-breed dog on a leash around 5:40 p.m. to find the street clogged by fire engines. She told firefighters she’d left about 45 minutes earlier to walk the dog, Hewett said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross responded to help the woman.

No one was found inside the house; Rose said he didn’t see anyone leaving.

A fire investigator was looking into the cause Tuesday. A damage estimate wasn’t available. The 1,040-square-foot house had a value of about $165,000, according to the county assessor’s office.