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Fire destroys Reid Boiler Works building in Fairhaven

BELLINGHAM — A fire blazed through the Reid Boiler Works building near Taylor Dock in Fairhaven late Saturday night, Feb. 8, leaving the building just a shell within a few short hours.

See below for update.

The Bellingham Fire Department got a call about a fire at 10:20 p.m. at 10th Street and Taylor Avenue and sent one engine company, Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett said. A minute later, another caller reported the fire had spread to the Boiler Works building, prompting the department to respond with four more engine companies, and medic and battalion units.

As far as firefighters know, no one would normally be inside the commercial building at this time of night, Hewett said.

Flames ripped through the building, feeding a plume of burning debris and foul-smelling smoke that rose high into the air until well after 11 p.m. As a portion of the roof collapsed into the heart of the fire, bystanders were hit with a blast of hot air, while the flames grew bigger with the gust.

It took firefighters until well after 11:30 p.m. to fully extinguish the fire.

Witnesses who lived nearby reported seeing flames in the air from their homes five or six blocks up the hill when the flames were at their largest.

Investigators will work to determine the cause of the fire, Hewett said. More information will be made available Sunday.

Some witnesses reported hearing and seeing what appeared to be large fireworks in the hour before the fire started. Afterward at least one power line was down near the building.

Update at 2 a.m. Sunday. Authorities found three "gold-colored aerial fireworks" just south of the building, according to a press release issued by the Bellingham Fire Department. Apparently, the fireworks sparked a grass fire that spread to the building.

According to fire officials: "The Fairhaven fire engine found a fully involved structure with fire shooting through the warehouse roof. The nearby railway was closed because of the intense heat and flames. The stubborn fire took nearly 90 minutes to extinguish. The fire investigation identified three gold-colored aerial fireworks had been discharged just south of the Boiler Works before the grass fire was reported. Fire loss estimates were not available at the time of this release."

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com

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