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'Suspicious' fire in WWU dorm bathroom still under investigation

BELLINGHAM — A dozen Western Washington University students could be staying in a motel for up to three weeks after a "suspicious" fire in a dorm bathroom.

A burning towel on the second floor of Ridgeway Gamma's Stack 9 prompted fire engines to rush to the dorm around 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Sprinklers put out the flames before firefighters arrived, but likely caused thousands of dollars in water damage.

At least two male residents were home at the time of the fire, said Bellingham Fire Marshal Jason Napier. Exactly how the towel caught fire remained under investigation. University police are assisting.

"A towel burned in a bathroom," remarked Paul Cocke, university spokesman. "That's kind of unusual."

Sixteen college students live in the affected dorms. Four of them chose to stay, because their rooms only need minor repairs. For the others, it could be two or three weeks before they can move back in, Cocke said. In the meantime they've taken up the university's offer of a motel room near downtown Bellingham.

Investigators may release more info next week after further interviews with witnesses, Napier said.

An exact damage estimate wasn't available Friday.

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