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Homeowner with hose saves house
A garage fire nearly claimed a two-story North Whidbey home late Monday, authorities are reporting.
According to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Ray Merrill, the department responded to a 911 call for a residential fire at about 10 p.m. on Waterworks Way, a private drive off Fort Nugent Road.
Firefighters arrived to find smoke pouring from the garage but little flames showing. Apparently the homeowner, Mike Nelson, had taken quick action with a garden hose and was able to hold the blaze at bay.
“That slowed the fire down and probably saved the house,” Merrill said.
Oak Harbor Fire Department and Navy Region Northwest Fire and Emergency Services also responded to the call and between the three agencies, what flames remained were wrestled under control within five minutes, Merrill said.
The structure and its contents suffered significant damage, however. A Bayliner Trophy boat was scorched and a mix of equipment, from diving gear to tools, was also burned, he reported.
Merrill estimated the total damages at about $50,000; $25,000 to the garage and $25,000 to equipment. He said it could have been much worse. Had the boat caught fire, the resins in the fiberglass would have caused the blaze to accelerate so fast that the home would likely have been destroyed, Merrill said.
Nelson was at home with his wife and children at the time of the fire. Merrill said no one, including firefighters, was injured.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but Merrill believes it was started by an electrical device. He said he’s looking at three such products and has yet to determine which is to blame. Arson has been ruled out.
“It’s definitely accidental,” Merrill said.
He warned that tackling a fire alone can be a risky business, especially if you lack formal training. Wanting to do everything you can to save your home is understandable and Nelson’s efforts did pay off in this case, but it’s much safer to evacuate and wait for firefighters to arrive, Merrill said.