By Meg Olson
Both Delta Fire and Emergency Services and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue were called to help put out a fire that destroyed the two-story building at the back of the Ridek Storage facility on Gulf Road.
When the local fire department responded to the call at 9:30 p.m. on April 6, the building was completely in flames. Assistant chief John Shields was first on the scene and immediately called for a second alarm, activating mutual aid and dispatching engines from Delta and North Whatcom “due to the size and involvement of the structure,” said chief Christopher Carleton.
“You could see it from the border when I came across,” Carleton said. Flames were rising 50 to 100 feet. An aerial unit was also requested from Delta but was turned back when the fire was brought under control from the ground. Within an hour “we had only spot fires,” Carleton said, but the building and numerous vehicles were a complete loss. “We were defensive the entire time. It was just too unstable.”
Several vehicles, including the RIDEK electric vehicle prototype developed there by Dr. Gordon Dower, were destroyed. Three recreational vehicles suffered extensive damage, one crushed when the building’s back wall collapsed, and at least three boats were damaged or destroyed. “There was a lot of value in that structure,” Carleton said. “It’s a total loss.”
The cause of the fire is unknown and both the county fire marshal and insurance companies are investigating. “It could be a number of days before we find out,” Carleton said.
Four firefighters from Delta and three from North Whatcom joined eight members of the local fire department. “I can’t say enough about the firefighters,” Carleton said. “They worked really well and I’m very proud.” He pointed out that with three fires to fight in a month and a half department members have been getting a good dose of front-line experience.