An investigation team from the Bellingham Police and Fire Departments has determined the fire at Hohl Feed and Seed was started under suspicious circumstances. Investigators have been processing the fire scene at 1322 Railroad Ave. since Monday. After examining the scene and reviewing nearby security video the team has determined the fire started on the outside of the building in the alley.
Investigators were unable to locate any electrical or heat sources in the area where the fire started. Without anything to indicate an accidental start to the fire, it is apparent that the fire was caused by a person. A security video provided by a neighboring business confirms there was a person in the area where the fire started minutes before 9-1-1 was notified.
The call reporting the fire came to 9-1-1 at 4:20 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 18. The two-alarm response included apparatus from Bellingham Fire, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, South Whatcom Fire Authority and Whatcom County Fire District 7. The fire also triggered a response from Bellingham Police, Bellingham Public Works and the Whatcom Humane Society.
The fire directly affected several businesses surrounding the location as well as impacting hundreds of other businesses and residents due to the power outage and traffic closures. “The loss of such an iconic and historic downtown business is felt throughout the entire Whatcom County area," said Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Newbold. "To find out that it was potentially started by either an intentional or careless act by a person just adds to the devastation we are feeling as a community.”
The investigation team is asking for help from the community to try to identify who was in the alley. If you have any information about the fire or if you were in the area and saw anyone in the alleyway, please contact Detective Kelsh at 360-778-8690 or the Bellingham Police Tip Line at 360-778-8611. Tips can also be sent in electronically at www.cob.org/tips.