Fire destroys three buildings in Old Town

By Isaac Bonnell

An early morning fire on March 1 destroyed a complex of unoccupied buildings in downtown Bellingham. The commercial spaces were formerly occupied by Eartha Kitty’s Antiques and Wise Buys Shop, which moved to a larger location on North State Street in September 2009.

Frances Erickson, who owned and operated Eartha Kitty’s in that location for 20 years, went downtown mid-morning to witness the destruction with several of the former tenants. Erickson moved her business in 2008 and now manages estate sales. The mood at the scene of the blaze was somber, she said.

“It’s kind of sad and nostalgic,” Erickson said. “It’s like a wake right now for all those folks who used to be in that building.”

People passing by called 911 at 2:41 a.m. reporting extensive fire in a series of commercial buildings located in the 400 block of West Holly Street. The complex, consisting of a series of one- and two-story, wood frame buildings, was originally constructed in the early 1900s.

Firefighters battled the blaze through the early morning and by the time downtown businesses opened their doors, much of the complex was reduced to rubble. Sporadic electricity outages were experienced in the downtown area and portions of West Holly Street were closed. The blaze also delayed trains on the railroad line along the waterfront.

The fire did not extend to any additional structures beyond those involved before the arrival of fire units, and no civilians or firefighters were injured. The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation.

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