A fire gutted a single-story Bellingham house Thursday, Sept. 17, near St. Joseph hospital.
A neighbor, Jessica King, 39, said she was driving home around 5 p.m. when she saw a “very small flame” flickering in the front windows of 3009 Coolidge Drive. She and her husband stopped to check if something was on fire. As they got closer they saw smoke and flames inside.
King dialed 911, while her husband went around the house banging on doors — not opening them, to avoid fanning the flames. No one answered.
About that time a next-door neighbor, Louis Lallas, heard a loud bang as the windows broke out from the heat.
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“I thought it was a cannon shot,” he said.
In the next five minutes, as firefighters started to arrive, the house erupted into flames. Smoke could be seen drifting into the sky from as far away as downtown Bellingham. Passersby in the neighborhood gathered on the street corners to watch. Small white ashes rained down onto a white Subaru, a blue Ford van, and an older trailer in the driveway.
Firefighters searched the house — a faded orange rambler with an attic — but found nobody inside. A man and woman lived there with at least one teenage son, Lallas said.
The frame of the home remained standing, but much of its interior took smoke and heat damage. The most intense flames burned on the south end of the house, by a chimney and an attached carport. From there the fire spread to a 15-foot-tall hedge along the property line, and came within a few feet of the Lallas home.
No one was hurt.
The home, built in 1950, had an assessed value of about $130,000, according to the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office.
The exact cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday evening.