Crime

Three-alarm barn fire south of Lynden leaves $380K in damage

A fire destroyed this barn and two others at 656 E. Pole Road, south of Lynden on Saturday, June 13. The cause remains under investigation.
A fire destroyed this barn and two others at 656 E. Pole Road, south of Lynden on Saturday, June 13. The cause remains under investigation. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A three-alarm fire at a berry farm south of Lynden likely was sparked by a smoldering brush fire, though the official cause remained under investigation Monday, June 15, according to the county fire marshal’s office.

On Saturday afternoon, a column of smoke could be seen for miles rising from a metal-and-wood barn on a berry farm at 656 E. Pole Road, a 10-minute drive south of Lynden.

Once firefighters reached the scene a bit after 2 p.m. they found the smallest in a group of three barns, a 50-by-100-foot building, “heavily involved with fire on all sides,” according to a report written by Lynden Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Spinner.

As Spinner walked around the buildings, he said, the fire spread to two neighboring barns — about 75-by-100 feet, and 100-by-100 feet — and continued to intensify. Scattered throughout the barns were tractors and other farm equipment, but no people or livestock.

Quickly, within about three minutes of firefighters’ arrival, the flames had multiplied into a three-alarm fire meriting a huge response from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, Fire District 4 and Fire District 7.

Nine water tenders and six engines helped to battle the flames.

It took about 30 minutes to get the fire under control. All three barns and their contents were destroyed, a loss of about $380,000, said Mitch Nolze, an investigator with the county fire marshal’s office.

Fire crews returned to the scene several times Saturday, late into the night, to make sure the barns did not rekindle.

Smoldering embers from an earlier brush fire might have been gradually swept by the wind toward the barns, Nolze said. Burn patterns in the field could reveal if that theory holds water. The controlled brush fire had been about 50 to 75 feet from the barns.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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