Mount Vernon, Washington– The cause of the massive fire at Craft Stoves and Hansen’s Furniture in the early morning hours of Sunday, May 1st in Westside Mount Vernon has been ruled accidental by fire investigators.
Security Cameras from an area business allowed fire investigators to gather a timeline of when and how the fire started.
According to an employee of Craft Stoves, Fire investigators said a Craft Stove employee appears on surveillance camera to have discarded a used wood pellet into a wooden container that contains bricks behind the business around 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.
Around 11:00 pm, which is eight hours later, the first flame is said to be visible on surveillance video coming from the same wooden container. The flame appears to go out around 40-minutes later at 11:40 pm.
At 1:39 am, the video reportedly shows the fire rekindling and the fire burned until it was noticed and firefighters were called to the scene at 3:01 am.
The fire was well-advanced into the Craft Stoves building before firefighters arrived, which made fighting the fire difficult as the fire had already spread to a large area of the building, which held combustible materials, including around 20,000 pounds of wood pellets.
An explosion at the business heard by witnesses before 3:07 am is believed to have been the Propane tank on Craft Stoves forklift that is believed to have caught fire and shot from the back of the building, through a door and into the front part of the building where it possibly exploded. This is also possibly why some witnesses, including Skagit Breaking Photographers who arrived shortly after the fire started witnessed fire at the back SouthEast Corner of the building and the Front NorthWest corner of the business as you can see in the above photo.
The fire was upgraded to a four alarm fire and fire districts from around Skagit County responded for mutual aid.
The Fire Marshall told employees that they estimated between 2 and 3 million gallons of water was used to fight the fire.
Both buildings were a complete loss, which is now estimated between $1.5 and $2 million dollars.
Craft Stove has been in contact with vendors and suppliers and will be able to continue to install stoves this week and look forward to rebuilding in the community.
The owner of Hansen’s Furniture was in the hospital when the fire started and our attempts to contact him for comment today were unsuccessful.
Chem-Dry of Mount Vernon’s building received minimal damage and released the following statement on the fire. “We want to send our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to our fellow businesses Craft Stove and Hansen’s Furniture, we are truly sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you and your families and employees. We wanted to say a huge thank you, to the Mount Vernon Fire Department Engine #111, who were first responders and the surrounding Fire Departments. Thanks to their quick action our building sustained minimal damage and we are fully operational.”
Insurance agents will be on scene tomorrow to asses the damages and start the process of rebuilding. Due to new building codes, it is unknown at this time if the buildings will be able to be rebuilt in the same location.