Generator caused blaze

An overheated propane generator at an Agate Point home ignited a stack of cedar shingles Sunday, causing one of the largest and most costly residential fires in nearly a decade, according to Bainbridge Fire officials.

“I don’t recall a house fire this big,” said Bainbridge Fire Marshal Earl Davis, who has served the island’s fire department for nine years. “The house was a complete loss, and we found little that was salvageable.”

The Christmas day blaze destroyed the home of Paul and Laurel Moldon, who built their waterfront residence in the 7000 block of North Street in 2002 after moving to the island from Nevada. The home was valued at $1.6 million by the Kitsap County Assessor and featured a 5,700-square-foot ground floor and a 2,888-square-foot basement.

The Moldons and their two dogs fled the home without injury and now temporarily reside at an island hotel.

The fire sparked sometime after 5 p.m. on Sunday with firefighters alerted to the scene at 5:43 p.m. According to Davis, a large, propane generator in the home’s garage had been on for more than 10 hours during power outages that blotted parts of the island on Christmas day.

“It had been on so long it was probably glowing cherry red,” he said.

The intense heat caused cedar shingles stacked against the generator to catch fire. The growing flames swelled and popped the generator’s fuel cord, which ran under the shingle stack. The fire then ran up the wall and ignited cedar ceiling boards.

“That really fed the fire when the line burst,” Davis said. “From there it moved on to the garage’s wall and then went into the attic. When it got into the attic, the house was gone.”

The attic’s untreated wood, few encumbrances and plenty of ventilation quickly sent the fire into all parts of the house, Davis said.

“After several attempts to get at the attic, we had to stop because it was unsafe,” he said. “Once the roof started to collapse, it was time to get out.”

Flames leaping from behind trees were witnessed from Suquamish, while television news crews from Seattle rolled in to record the blaze. Firefighters struggled for hours to extinguish the blaze.

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