Thursday, March 7, 2013

WWU Student Escapes Rental Fire

We now have another rental fire in Bellingham that can be enshrined with the rental fires (several nearly fatal) in the last year or two on Grant St.. Ellis St., 24th St., and E. Maple St.  You can read about each of these fires by clicking on the street names above.  The Bellingham Herald article on this most recent fire can be read by clicking here. This blaze was in Sunnyland at 2338 Humboldt St. in a 113 year old rental owned by Melvin and Barbara Davidson of Bellingham  according to Whatcom County property records.  The Davidsons apparently own about a half a dozen rental properties in the city.  The renter,  Kyler Frydenlund, is a student at Western Washington University.  About 13 WWU students have been displaced due to rental fires in the last several years.  Several  of these students barely escaped death or serious injury. 

The problem, as with most of the recent rental fires, has been preliminarily identified by the Bellingham Fire Department as electric in origin, possibly due to old wiring (knob and tube) exacerbated by a rat infestation.  Knob and tube wiring was basically phased out in the 1930s.  There are many hazards associated with this wiring about which you can read by clicking here.  In this case, we may have witnessed an confluence of two important health and safety issues; bad, outdated wiring and vermin, like rats, who love to chew on things. 

Councilman Jack Weiss, Chairman of the Planning Committee of the City Council, has been working steadily over the last several months to bring to bring to the full council a measure that would create a rental registration and inspection program to Bellingham.  This latest fire ought to "build a fire" under the Council to ensure that all of Bellingham's rentals are free of health and safety hazards.