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Blaze claims North Whidbey home

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighters James Zimmerman and Ron Roberts blast a few stubborn embers late Saturday morning. The West Sleeper Road home caught fire and burned earlier that morning.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighters James Zimmerman and Ron Roberts blast a few stubborn embers late Saturday morning. The West Sleeper Road home caught fire and burned earlier that morning.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

A North Whidbey man lost his West Sleeper Road home Saturday when it was destroyed by an early morning fire.

According to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Marv Koorn, the blaze appears to have started just after midnight. A neighbor called 911 at 12:13 a.m. and by the time firefighters got there, flames were coming through the roof.

“It was fully involved by the time we arrived,” Koorn said.

There was some initial concern as to the whereabouts of the building’s owner, George Beard. The 911 caller reported that Beard lived in the residence but Koorn said he was nowhere to be found and the building was so consumed in flames that it was impossible to conduct an internal search.

By that point, they were fighting what he said was a “defensive” fire. If someone was still in the building, it was too late to save them so firefighters focused their efforts on containing and extinguishing the blaze, he said.

Beard appears to have never been in any danger, however. According to Koorn, he showed up on scene about one and a half hours after the fire department arrived.

Attempts to reach Beard Monday morning were unsuccessful but Koorn said the man has been in contact and is being assisted by the Whidbey Chapter of the American Red Cross. Attempts to reach the chapter at its Oak Harbor office Monday were also unsuccessful.

Firefighters fought the fire for about three hours before it was finally extinguished. However, it sparked back up later that morning at about 10 a.m. and the fire department was called back to the scene. After cutting a hole in the side of what was left of a wall, firefighters snuffed out the last stubborn embers with a fire hose.

It’s still unclear how the fire got started. A space heater and pellet stove were both on in separate rooms but they were operating on low settings and are not believed to have sparked the blaze.

“It appears to have been an accident but we haven’t determined a cause yet,” Koorn said.

While the fire is not being considered suspicious, its cause is under investigation by the fire department.

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