Fire devastates storage complex filled with cars and boats

POINT ROBERTS, Wash. — Hundred-foot-high flames burned a storage facility and everything inside it to the ground including boats and classic cars, in Point Roberts, Washington late, Wednesday night.

For the small, tight-knit community you can only reach in a car by driving through Canada -- it is devastating.




Firefighters worked through the night Wednesday knocking down incredible flames and were still on scene Friday morning putting out hot spots.

"When the structure starts to collapse it creates pockets of the areas that continue burning," explained Fire Chief Christopher Carleton.

What remains of the 40-by-80-foot building is rubble -- tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

"There was an electric car, it was a prototype," Carleton said as he pointed to a spot underneath debris.

The storage complex fire is the third devastating structure fire for the community's fire department in just six weeks.

They average zero a year.

"Over the last five years we have maybe had one fire that could be considered a structure fire," said Carleton.  He says Wednesday's, though, is by far the worst.

"This is probably the biggest in our history."

The problem is that while the outside of the building was metal, the inside was timber. There was likely fuel in some of the vehicles, which probably contributed to the speed and size of this fire, according to Carleton.

It burned so fast and so large that Annette Loewen and probably 50 of her neighbors saw the flames and came running.

"We heard a boom," she told us, standing in her yard across the street from the storage units.

She had furniture and other home goods stored there, some sentimental, all lost. Her son -- too emotional to talk on camera -- lost thousands in tools and a classic pickup.

"It hit him very hard, it hit me very hard. It's something you can't really get over," Annette said, fighting back tears.

The chief says the whole community is hurting, whether they stored there or not. He says Point Roberts is one of those rare remaining places where people still know their neighbors and watch out for each other.

"Anything like this, especially when you have personal items lost and people know each other very closely, it hits home to all of us," Carleton concluded.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.