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Firefighters save mobile home

A motorist who noticed smoke and fast-acting firefighters prevented a house fire near Freeland from harming the occupants or taking the mobile home down completely.

Paul Busch, an assistant chief with Fire District 3, said firefighters responded to a report of a garage fire on Highway 525 north of Freeland Sunday afternoon. The crews got to the scene within minutes, but already the garage was fully involved in flames and the fire had spread to the side of the house. A large plume of black smoke could be seen from miles away.

Busch said the firefighters concentrated on saving the house and were able to minimize the damage to the side of the double-wide mobile, but the garage was a total loss.

“The mobile home had broken windows and one side was burned,” he said. He estimated the damage to house as up to $10,000.

Fortunately, the couple living in the house were unharmed, as were the firefighters. The couple, a man and a pregnant woman, weren’t aware of the blaze until the motorist notified them.

“Someone was driving by on the road and banged on the door,” said Don Sumlin, the south end disaster coordinator for the Island County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“There was a pretty fast response from the south end fire district,” he added.

The Red Cross put up the couple in a local hotel. Sumlin said the couple are “doing pretty well” right now, but the experience was pretty traumatic for them.

“She said she was as frightened as she had been in her entire life,” he said. A Red Cross counselor has met with them to help them handle the trauma.

While their house can be rebuilt, Sumlin said the man lost all the equipment for his tile-setting business.

Assistant Chief Busch said the fire may have started after the resident heated up a metal tool to bend it, then put the still-hot tool back in the garage near some wood.

Firefighters with trucks and equipment from the Freeland, Bayview and Saratoga stations responded, with mutual aid from Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

Busch said firefighters extinguished the flames in about 10 to 15 minutes but “mop up” took about an hour longer. He said the residents were lucky that their house was a newer mobile home.

“The older ones had wood paneling on the inside,” he said. “They would go up in a heartbeat.”

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