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Condemned Ledgewood house burns to ground months after landslide

Chad Michael, deputy chief for Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, talks with Bret Holmes and Ralph Young about a fire that destroyed a home Sunday evening on Driftwood Way in the Ledgewood area.  - Nathan Whalen photo
Chad Michael, deputy chief for Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, talks with Bret Holmes and Ralph Young about a fire that destroyed a home Sunday evening on Driftwood Way in the Ledgewood area.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

A Driftwood Way home that had been abandoned since a massive landslide made national headlines in early 2013 burned to the ground Sunday night.

The home, a double-wide manufactured home, had been red-tagged by Island County since the landslide, meaning that it was unsafe to enter. The house had been pushed toward the shoreline during the landslide and part of it teetered over the edge of a mound.

The landslide destroyed a section of Driftwood Way and left firefighters with several challenges to overcome before they could extinguish the blaze.

With a portion of the road gone, the only access to the neighborhood is provided by a small, barely one-lane wide road. Because of the road’s width and a hairpin turn, the large fire engines weren’t able to maneuver down to the neighborhood. Rather, three smaller brush trucks responded to the Sunday evening conflagration, said Chad Michael, deputy chief for Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

The fire was reported by Ralph Young, who lives in a house atop of the bluff overlooking the manufactured home. He said he was just getting ready for bed after celebrating the Seahawks victory when he spotted the fire.

“It was quite an inferno,” Young said.

Michael said the fire had engulfed the home by the time firefighters arrived, approximately 10 minutes after getting the report.

Firefighters accessed the fire from a neighboring house. They had to string fire hose approximately 500 feet down a ravine created by last year’s landslide and up a hill where the abandoned house was resting.

A brush apparatus holds 250 gallons of water. While one was used to fight the blaze, the other two were used to ferry water to the site, Michael said.

In all, 20 firefighters from Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, Naval Air Station Whidbey and South Whidbey Fire/EMS assisted in dousing the blaze.

 

The blaze was extinguished around 1:50 a.m. Monday and a small number of

firefighters remained on scene throughout the day extinguishing any flare ups.

Michael said a fire investigator combed through the wreckage Tuesday after The Whidbey Examiner’s deadline to determine a cause of the blaze.

He said the house was supposed to have been unoccupied and it didn’t have any electricity.

Sheriff Mark Brown said the fact there isn’t electricity running into the house makes the fire suspicious and the sheriff’s office is investigating.

However, Young said neighbors have seen evidence in the months since the landslide that people have been breaking into the house. People have tried to board it up only to see it removed.

“It’s a continual thing,” Young said.

If anyone has any information about the fire, Brown said they should call the Island County Sheriff’s Office at 360-678-4422 or ICOM at 360-679-9567.

 

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