UPDATE | Wing Point home destroyed in blaze
By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
September 7, 2012 · 10:26 AM
An Eagle Harbor home was a total loss after flames tore through its walls and scorched a nearby tree Tuesday evening.
The fire left the home on Wing Point Drive charred from its basement to the second story, and a smoky haze floating through the air in Eagle Harbor.
Investigators with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department have called the fire accidental and point to a piece of excavation machinery, located underneath the structure, as the likely source of the fire.
“We believe that it is where the fire originated,” said Fire Marshal Luke Carpenter.
The house, an estimated value of $385,000, is a total loss, Carpenter said.
The 2,500-square-foot home was originally built in 1920 but has recently been under construction for a remodel. It was not occupied at the time of the fire.
Around three hours after construction crews left the home on Tuesday, a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the home and ran over to find the source.
He noticed that a piece of Bobcat heavy machinery had caught fire, spread to the home, and the flames jumped onto a large tree about 30 feet tall nearby. The neighbor immediately called 911.
Firefighters responded to the call at 7:24 p.m. By that time, smoke from the blaze was filling into Eagle Harbor and could be seen at the Winslow waterfront.
Four fire trucks and an aid car were called to the scene.
Fire crews were able to knock down the fire within 20 minutes of the initial call, and remained over the following hour putting out hot spots that continued to send up flames.
A two-man team of firefighters remained at the home overnight to watch for any further flare-ups.
Investigators with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department still could not enter the charred structure the next morning, but they felt confident identifying the likely source of the fire—the Bobcat-brand machinery underneath the home.
The machine was being used to excavate underneath the home in order to construct a new foundation as part of the remodel. It was removing dirt while the structure was supported by steel beams. It is likely that the machine caught fire and spread flames to the house, and eventually the tree.
Because the home had most of its interior sheet rock and doors removed for the renovation, the fire was able to spread more quickly, Carpenter said.
“They’re powered by diesel fuel and they have batteries and oil,” Carpenter said of the Bobcat. “A combination of all those things may have started the fire.”
Since the home remained too dangerous for anyone to enter in the days following the fire, inspectors could not determine exactly how the machine could have ignited.
The homeowners and insurance company representatives were expected to meet before the end of the week. Until a safe method for removing the Bobcat can be found, and the structure can be made safe to enter, the machine is staying put.Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 842-6613.