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Large garage, forklift destroyed in late night fire near Bellingham

BELLINGHAM — It took firefighters seven hours, all told, to extinguish a fire at a large metal shop early Friday, Nov. 22, northeast of Bellingham.

The homeowner smelled smoke coming from his garage around 11:20 p.m. at 4821 Mission Road. He later told firefighters he opened the door and flames flared up with the fresh gust of air, said North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Division Chief Henry Hollander.

Five fire engines and five water tenders responded to the shop, which had a footprint, in Hollander's best estimate, of about 80-by-100-feet. The home is at the end of densely wooded driveway, where there are no fire hydrants. Neighboring fire agencies were called in to help.

Hollander, coming from a Blaine-area station, was one of the last first-responders at the scene. By that time the whole building was engulfed, and firefighters were focused on keeping the flames from spreading to a home mere feet away.

The garage was a total loss. Metalworking tools and a small forklift near a doorway were destroyed; the home, and another, larger forklift, were saved.

Cold, weary firefighters finished mopping up at 6:30 a.m.

An initial investigation of the burnt remains turned up "nothing unusual, nothing suspicious," Hollander said. The fire appeared to be an accident, he said.

No damage estimate was available Friday.

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