Oak Harbor firefighters responded to a garage fire last week. Photo provided

Oak Harbor firefighters responded to a garage fire last week. Photo provided

Fire displaces family of six; blamed on space heater

No one was injured.

Over the last five days, a garage fire displaced a family of six and another fire scorched a car and the outside wall of an apartment building, according to the Oak Harbor Fire Department.

Nobody was injured in either fire.

Chief Ray Merrill said firefighters were dispatched to a garage fire on Northwest Mizzen Drive at 5:48 p.m. on Feb 5.

Merrill explained that a resident was doing computer work in the garage and went into the house to make supper. His mother happened to go into the garage and saw a small fire on a shelf next to a space heater.

The man tried to put it out with a small extinguisher, Merrill said. Because the blaze wasn’t completely extinguished, the resident ran back inside to get another extinguisher but found when he returned that the fire was too large to handle on his own.

Oak Harbor firefighters arrived within four minutes of the 911 call and put out the fire within 20 minutes, according to Merrill. They were assisted by crews from North Whidbey Fire and Navy Region Northwest Federal Fire Department.

The firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to the garage. Nonetheless, the property sustained $75,000-$100,000 in damages.

Merrill said the family likely won’t be able to move back in for four or five months.

Merrill said the family members closed the door between the garage and the house, which also helped to contain the fire. Under the International Fire Code, doors between a garage and house must provide protection from fire.

Investigators believe the fire originated with the portable heater, the chief said.

Then on Feb 7 at about 1 p.m., firefighters extinguished a fire outside an apartment building on Southeast Eighth Avenue.

Merrill said a resident had placed cardboard behind the building and someone threw a cigarette butt on top of it, causing it to start a fire.

The flames spread to a nearby vehicle and the outside of the apartment building.

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