Fire consumes mobile home in Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
December 8, 2008 · Updated 4:06 PM
A giant plume of dirty smoke could be seen from 20 miles away, but firefighters say nobody was injured in a fire that consumed a mobile home Thursday afternoon in Coupeville.
Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to neighboring trailers at a mobile home park on Terry Road, but a Ford SUV parked next to the single-wide wasn’t so lucky. It went up in smoke and flames.
Firefighters from Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded to the scene, but the fire had engulfed the home by the time they arrived. They received the call at 2:15 p.m.
“It was already out through the roof before we got there,” Chief Joe Biller said while firefighters were busy dousing the conflagration.
An engine and firefighters from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded as well.
Paul Messner, a fire commissioner for Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, said two roofers who happened to be driving on Terry Road stopped, grabbed garden hoses and were spraying the blaze when firefighters arrived.
Biller said emergency personnel were concerned that people were still inside the home while it was burning. But fortunately, the home was empty that afternoon.
“We were under the impression they were in there, but it looked like they got out,” Biller said. He added firefighters were concerned that propane tanks near the fire could have exploded.
Marilio and Rosa Bautista lived in the trailer with four other family members, including at least two children. They said nobody was home when the fire started.
Coupeville Town Marshal Dave Penrod said a local church is looking for housing for the family and Gifts From the Heart food bank will provide food to help the family.
“I think the community is going to get together and help them out as best they can,” Penrod said.
Reports are unclear as to what time the fire ignited, but by the time people noticed it, the entire home was ablaze. Mobile homes are known to burn in a hurry.
Neighbor Marisol Diaz was cleaning her bathroom and noticed the fire when she peered out of her window.
“I looked outside and there was smoke. I just grabbed my baby and went outside,” Diaz said.
Biller said he didn’t know how the fire started.
A detective from the Island County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, will investigate the cause of the fire.
The sheer size of the smoke plume apparently sparked rumors about the fire, including speculation about an airplane crash.
Fourteen-year-old Ben Wehrman of Coupeville saw the billowing smoke from Oak Harbor after he finished up with an orthodontist appointment.
“My dad and I were trying to figure out what it was,” Wehrman said at the scene.
Firefighters remained at the fire until 11 p.m. and then returned again Friday morning to douse any hot spots that flare up.
In addition to the fire-ravaged home, two additional trailer homes sustained damage. The fire was hot enough to melt the siding on one of the homes and a window broke in another home.
Biller said firefighters placed plywood over the broken window to help protect the inside of the home.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.