Fire guts Port Madison home

Jan. 12 update: According to Bainbridge Fire Marshal Jared Moravec, the Jan.8 Skogen Lane fire has been ruled accidental. An exact cause has not been determined.

The Bainbridge Fire department is still investigating the cause of a fire that gutted a home on the north shore of Port Madison Thursday afternoon.

Fire crews were working to extinguish remnants of the fire on Skogen Lane Thursday evening.

The Fire Department responded to the blaze after residents on the opposite side of the bay called emergency crews at 1:38 p.m. to report smoke bellowing from the one-story house.

No injuries were reported as a result of the blaze. Rescue crews were initially told someone could have been inside the residence but found the house empty. The home's residents, Ron and Ethelyn Williamson, were away when the fire began.

Eighteen firefighters arrived to find the house 40 percent engulfed in flame. Power lines at the property were also exposed and sparking, limiting some access routes to the fire.

Police and Puget Sound Energy personnel were also dispatched to handle traffic and deal with the exposed power lines. It is uncertain whether the exposed power lines were the cause of the fire, Fire Department officials said.

Ron Williamson arrived on the scene to find firefighters battling the blaze.

"I got here about 2:30 and saw the hoses," Williamson said. "Then you follow the hose down here and it's your worst nightmare."

Williamson, well known on Bainbridge for leading walks around the island, was honored as the Kiwanis citizen of the year in 2007. He said he has lived at the home for 40 years.

According to Williamson the home started out as a cabin that was built from beach wood in the late 1920's. The Williamson family added to the cabin over the years, making it a 1,200 square-foot home.

Williamson speculated that the home's long history may have contributed to the blaze.

"The old end of the house has the power box and the space heater," Williamson said. "When you live in an old house that has been wired and rewired so many times, it's hard to tell what caused it. But they'll figure it out."

The fire destroyed at least half the home, although the supporting structure was still intact as of 3.30 p.m.

"I think you would probably declare that pretty much a total loss," Williamson said. "This end of the house is almost totally gone. It's still burning in some places."

Fire Chief Hank Teran said it was too early to say how extensive damage to the home would be. The cause of the fire has not been identified.

"As you can see we still have some live fire, we'll be here for several hours," Teran said. "We don't know the cause of the fire but we're still investigating and trying to salvage items."

Williamson said he and his wife would stay with friends this evening, then they would have to come to terms with the loss.

"It's a funny feeling not having a house. In my mind I'm still planning on doing the stuff I was planning to do," he said. "What do you do now? Do you secure the place, everything you own is in there but is it worth anything?

"This won't sink in for awhile."

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