Fire destroys Birch Bay barn; none hurt in the blaze

Published on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 by Ian Ferguson

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Crews from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, Lynden Fire Department and Whatcom Fire District 7 responded to two structure fires in one evening in Blaine and Birch Bay on December 9. No one was hurt in either fire.

The fires occurred within two miles of one another, and both were contained to outbuildings. The first reported fire, at 3704 Sweet Road in Blaine, was caught early and caused minimal structural damage but some smoke damage. The other, at 8704 Blaine Road, resulted in a total loss of a metal-sided barn and the passenger vehicle, tractors and tools that were inside it at the time.

Tamera Van Winkle, a resident at the Blaine Road address, was leaving her home at 6 p.m. to pick up her husband Brian 
from work when she smelled smoke. She alerted her uncle Rich Van Winkle, who was visiting for the holidays, before driving off. Rich saw flames shooting out the window of the metal-sided barn towards the back of the property and called 911.

By the time Tamera and Brian arrived home a few minutes later, emergency response vehicles were in their driveway and they could see flames in the distance.

“My heart just about dropped through the floor,” Brian said. He ran up to the house to check on their 6-year-old son and two-month-old daughter, despite having had hip-replacement surgery four months prior. “I calmed down when I found out everyone was OK. The barn and everything in it is replaceable,” he said.

Rich lost his Dodge Caravan in the fire, but the Christmas gifts inside the van were a more bitter loss, he said.

“The van was incidental – it was the stuff inside it that mattered,” he said.

Assistant Lynden fire chief Robert Spinner said the building was fully involved when crews arrived.

“It was a defensive fire at that point, and our goal was to keep it contained to one building,” Spinner said. “Metal buildings tend to be easier to contain.”

At press time, the causes of both fires were still under investigation.