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Suquamish home fire likely caused by space heater, combustibles

Fire destroys a manufactured home in Suquamish early Jan. 21. The home was fully engulfed in flames when North Kitsap and Poulsbo firefighters arrived.   - Contributed / Lori Weber
Fire destroys a manufactured home in Suquamish early Jan. 21. The home was fully engulfed in flames when North Kitsap and Poulsbo firefighters arrived.
— image credit: Contributed / Lori Weber

SUQUAMISH -- A fire that destroyed a manufactured home and killed a family cat on Essex Avenue on Jan. 21 was likely caused by a space heater in close proximity to combustibles in the home’s master bathroom, fire investigators have determined.

Citing the National Fire Protection Association, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Michele Laboda said home heating appliances were responsible for 17 percent of all home fires in 2008. "In these incidents, space heaters were the cause behind 32 percent of the fires. More than half of the cases involved combustibles -- mattresses, clothing, bedding, towels, papers, etc. -- placed too close to heating equipment."

The home and its contents were destroyed in the fire. There were no injuries.

The homeowner, Jason Wistrand, was insured. But his friends and family members are setting up an account in his name at Bank of America to receive donations to help him recover from his losses.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were dispatched to the Essex Avenue home at 9:19 a.m. after Wistrand returned from breakfast to find flames and smoke coming from the structure.

Two pet dogs were outside at the time and were not injured. Wistrand's six-year-old Maine Coon cat, Minnie, was in the house and died.

Lori Weber, a neighbor who lives about 150 yards away, said she was in her kitchen when she heard “noise.” “I stuck my head outside to see what was going on and could see smoke,” she said. She grabbed her camera and, when she got to the scene, the home was fully engulfed, she said.

Steve Wistrand of Poulsbo said he was shaken to learn of the fire from his son, but relieved his son was not injured. “He lost personal belongings, but he had insurance so, in the long run, everything will work out,” he said.

Access to the home was complicated by twisting and narrow dirt roads, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue reported. The first crews were on the scene in just over seven minutes following dispatch.

Firefighters reported the house to be fully engulfed on their arrival. Efforts to extinguish the blaze were further complicated by a lack of fire hydrants in the area; water had to be supplied by tender trucks, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue reported.

Wistrand reportedly told officials that he’d left the 1,200-square-foot house to go to breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and hadn’t left anything — such as candles, heaters or woodstove – operating.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene at noon. The American Red Cross also went to the scene.

Photos 1-4 by Lori Weber; photos 5-7 by North Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

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