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Power line snaps onto parked van, starting fire

BELLINGHAM — A snapped power line fell onto a parked van Wednesday, Jan. 29, sparking a smoky car fire in the Sunnyland neighborhood.

Olsen Auto Body, 1919 Humboldt Street, lost power around 4:10 p.m. when the line that connects to the shop broke and fell onto roof of the Ford E-250 van.

"If he'd parked a foot or two any other direction, it probably would've been fine," said Bellingham Fire Assistant Chief Bill Hewett.

Nhi Le, who works there, said the van didn't crash into the power pole, and it wasn't windy. So firefighters weren't sure why the line snapped, but said Puget Sound Energy would be looking into it. The driver, Le said, had parked a couple feet from the pole and gone inside.

Firefighters had to keep their distance from the arcing wires until the power got shut off. Ohio Street was briefly blocked off in both directions while firefighters fought the flames. It took about 15 minutes before the fire was out.

Dozens of onlookers gathered on sidewalks to watch the commotion.

No one was hurt.

Reach Caleb Hutton at or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.