Neighbor awakens family in Suquamish fire

A neighbor in Suquamish is credited with alerting a family of four that is now displaced but escaped without injury after an early morning fire Friday.

Officials say the blaze likely started with a smoldering welder’s spark in the carport outside. It spread, causing serious damage to the 1,100 square foot rental home.

The house was equipped with a smoke alarm, but it was the neighbor who spotted the flames and alerted the family. Firefighters are crediting him with preventing the fire from becoming even more tragic.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, along with the Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo fire departments, were called to the Maple Street residence at 5:48 a.m. The neighbor saw the fire, shouted to his girlfriend to make the 9-1-1 call and ran to rouse the sleeping family of two adults and two children.

After the neighbor’s persistent shouting and pounding on the door, the family awakened and evacuated the burning home as smoke began to fill the interior to trip the alarm.

The first crew arrived about seven minutes after dispatch from NKF&R’s Suquamish fire station, and reported the carport ablaze with flames extending to the attic. Firefighters had the majority of the fire knocked down right away but it proved more difficult to fully extinguish as hot spots persisted under the collapsed carport and within the attic.

The majority of the home’s living spaces weren’t directly affected by flames but, except where closed doors protected the spaces within, smoke and heat damage was evident throughout.

An investigator from the Kitsap County fire marshal’s office has determined that the fire was accidental.

An occupant told officials that throughout the previous day he’d been using welding equipment in the carport to construct a box on the bed of a heavy duty pickup he’d purchased just several days earlier. The carport also housed the truck and materials for an ongoing remodeling project as well as tools and other combustibles.

It appears that a spark from the welding may have dropped into the combustibles nearby, likely smoldering for some time before breaking out into active fire, officials said.

The family did not have renters’ insurance. NKF&R firefighters’ North Kitsap Community Partnership Fund is providing the family with temporary lodging at a local hotel, and the American Red Cross has been contacted to assist as well.