The fire may have started early Thursday morning and smoldered awhile before a neighbor saw smoke, said Scott Johnston, a battalion chief with the North County Regional Fire Authority. No one was home at time. One cat died in the fire, and another cat escaped, he said.
The fire was reported just before 9 a.m. at the two-story house in the 27200 block of 104th Avenue NW. A neighbor flagged down a police officer who was driving nearby at the time, Johnston said.
The police officer opened the front door and saw the first floor was filled with smoke, Johnston said.
Firefighters arrived a few moments later.
"We had smoke coming from the entire roof and all the eaves," Johnston said.
The fire put up a fight. It burned through the floor, and flames were spewing from a crawl-space vent, Johnston said. Due to a remodeling, the home had an older roof underneath a newer roof, and the fire got trapped between the two layers.
"We finally killed it completely somewhere around noon," Johnston said.
Police were able to contact the homeowner, and the American Red Cross was called out to assist the family, Johnston said. Displaced was a woman, her grown daughter and a friend who was staying there.
The family's cat was found safe when it leapt from a kitchen cabinet as crews were preparing to leave, Johnston said. Another cat, believed to be a stray, was found dead at the scene.
Firefighters were able to save some of the furniture, clothing, pictures and other items that weren't damaged by heat or flames, Johnston said. The kitchen and garage areas were mostly untouched.
The fire was believed to have been caused by a portable heater, according to the Snohomish County Fire Marshal's Office. The heater appeared to have wiring problems that ignited a towel in a bathroom area, officials said.
Damage was estimated at $40,000.
Stanwood contracts with the fire authority for service. Crews also responded to the fire from Camano Island, Silvana, Conway and Marysville. Firefighters from Tulalip and Getchell handled other north-county calls during the blaze, Fire Chief Dale Fulfs said.
City officials had encouraged people to avoid the area because road closures lasted several hours. Firefighters cleared the scene about 1:30 p.m.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fire safety tips
The holidays are one of the most common time for house fires in Snohomish County. Here are some safety tips from local firefighters:
Wall heaters, space heaters and other similar devices need at least three feet of room from anything combustible. Never use outdoor heating or cooking devices indoors.
Fireplaces need constant supervision while in use, and annual cleaning. Candles also need constant supervision.
Never warm frozen pipes with a torch or lighter.
Have a plan for power outages, including a stock of batteries and nonperishable food.
Follow the directions on holiday lights. Don't overload outlets or use lights with frayed cords or other damage.
Keep the Christmas tree watered, and dispose of it as soon as possible. Don't lean a dead tree against a home. With a spark, it can become a torch.
Never leave food cooking unattended. Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop.
Don't forget your smoke alarms and fire escape plans.
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