A home that has been the subject of recent health and public safety complaints in Edmonds’ Lake Ballinger neighborhood caught fire early Sunday morning, but a cause has not yet been determined.
A neighbor reported the fire in the 23100 block of 75th Place West at 5:22 a.m., and the fire had spread to the attic of the one-story home by the time firefighters arrived, said Leslie Hynes, public information officer for Snohomish County Fire District 1. Four occupants were in the home and got out safely. A cat inside the home was rescued by an Edmonds police officer, Hynes said.
“It took us about an hour to get the fire under control,” Hynes said, noting that there was a significant amount of debris both inside and outside the home.
Firefighters had to break through a tile roof to get to fire in the attic. Fire investigators have not yet determined what caused the fire, but it appears it started on the outside of the home, then spread through the eaves into the attic, Hynes said.
A big wood pile was located next to the house and well as “lots of things that can burn” inside the home, she said. There was so much wood located next to the home that fire officials called in a backhoe to pull the wood apart, allowing firefighters to douse any hot spots, she added.
The house, located just west of Mountlake Terrace’s Ballinger Park (formerly the Lake Ballinger Golf Course), has been known for years as a neighborhood eyesore, and has been subject of complaints to the city due to garbage and debris accumulating outside. In the past year, neighbors’ concerns intensified after the large amounts of firewood began appearing along the eastern perimeter of the yard.
One nearby neighbor, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, sent an email in late June to city officials noting the “makeshift fence out of firewood” along with stacks of tires in the backyard.”
“With the warm weather coming as well as fireworks on the 4th of July, I am concerned that there is a real threat that house could catch on fire and the result would be disastrous to the neighborhood as well as the environment,” the neighbor’s email said.
The neighbor supplied an email exchange with City Enforcement Officer Mike Thies July 24, explaining that the city on July 21 issued an order of abatement ordering the residents to remove the debris within 10 days.
On Aug. 3, the neighbor again emailed Thies, noting that the deadline for the home’s cleanup was July 31. While some cleaning has been done, “there is still much to do,” the neighbor wrote. “There are a lot of neighbors who still are concerned about what we consider to be a health and fire issue on this property.”
In his reply the same day, Thies stated that a dumpster was scheduled to be delivered to the property over the weekend, with the goal of facilitating cleanup. Thies also noted to in his email that there was a potential buyer for the property, pending the ability to subdivide the lot.
Thea Miklasiewicz, who has lived next door for decades, said that the home did not have power and residents were using a generator. Fire District spokeswoman Hynes confirmed that there was no power in the house, but said she did not know if the generator was running at the time the fire broke out.
— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel