Crime

Fire destroys Bellingham garage, damages nearby properties

Firefighters battle a fire in the 3400 block of Bennett Drive on Monday, June 6, 2016 in Bellingham, Wash.
Firefighters battle a fire in the 3400 block of Bennett Drive on Monday, June 6, 2016 in Bellingham, Wash. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A fire ripped through a garage on Bennett Drive, destroying the building and everything inside, and causing damage to adjacent properties Monday night, June 6.

Firefighters arrived to 3416 Bennett Drive around 8 p.m. to find the freestanding garage engulfed, with flames coming out of the open door, said Assistant Chief Bill Hewett with the Bellingham Fire Department. Crews from Whatcom County Fire District 8 also helped fight the blaze, Hewett said.

The fire was under control in about an hour, Hewett said, but not before it spread to a couple of cars parked a few feet away on the property to the north. Heat from the fire also melted the siding on a house to the south, Hewett added.

The garage’s roof collapsed as it burned, coming down on a car, an ATV and some tools. The contents of the garage were destroyed, Hewett said.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, said Mitch Nolze, an inspector with the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Citing statements from the homeowner and witnesses, Nolze said the homeowner had been inside the garage trying to start a three-wheel ATV when the vehicle backfired. The man went to open the garage door, and when he turned back around, the ATV was on fire.

A neighbor came over with an extinguisher to help put the fire out, Nolze said, but it grew too large, so the two evacuated the building.

The damage to the garage was so severe that Nolze was unable to examine the scene, he said, which prevented him from ruling out any potential causes other than the ATV’s backfire. Nolze said that he won’t likely be able to determine the cause of the fire but added that it was not suspicious.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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