SUDDEN VALLEY - A man apparently set fire to his Sudden Valley home in an attempted suicide late Tuesday, April 5.Authorities received a report of a house fire at about 9:40 p.m. at Black Bear Court.
The resident, Kenneth R. McMullan, 45, told Whatcom County Sheriff's deputies he intentionally set the fire because he believed his mother had died Tuesday at a nursing home, Sheriff Bill Elfo said. McMullan's mother is alive.
McMullan indicated to deputies that he first tried to start a fire in his bedroom but was unsuccessful. He then used a gas stove and was able to set fire to several areas in the house, Elfo said. At some point after the fire started, McMullan changed his mind and went outside to seek help from neighbors.
When firefighters arrived, they could see flames and smoke coming from the home, and it took almost an hour to completely put out the fire, Elfo said.
The house had mostly smoke and heat damage, and the fire did not spread to any other structures, Whatcom County Fire Marshal Warner Webb said. Webb estimated the damage at $100,000.
McMullan was taken to the hospital with burns on his legs, groin, back and face. He was then transferred to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center with burns to more than 50 percent of his body, Elfo said.
He was listed in critical condition in Harborview's intensive care unit Wednesday.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating the case. McMullan has not been arrested due to his current medical condition, Elfo said.
McMullan had two dogs that escaped the fire, Webb said.
Animal control officers were able to capture one of the dogs, a male border collie mix, said Laura Clark, executive director of the Whatcom Humane Society. That dog is in the Humane Society's custody.
The second dog, a female golden retriever, was seen but officers were not able to catch her. The dog may be suffering burns to part of her body and is skittish around people, Clark said. The Humane Society was still working to locate and safely contain this dog.
Anyone in the Sudden Valley area who sees the golden retriever is asked to contact the Whatcom Humane Society immediately by calling 360-733-2080, ext. 3017.