ATHOL - Investigators believe a fire that destroyed the home of an elderly couple in the Athol area on Saturday night started in the chimney of their woodstove.
The couple and their dog and cat safely made it out of the single-wide trailer on Timberland Drive, south of Silverwood Theme Park on the east side of U.S. 95 off Pope Road.
Tyler Drechsel, fire inspector for the Timberlake Fire Protection District, said the couple has insurance and is able to stay with relatives in the Hayden area in the interim.
Fire crews from Timberlake, Northern Lakes, Spirit Lake and Sagle responded to the home around 7 p.m.
"It appears to have started in the area of the wood-burning stove (in the living room)," Drechsel said. "They had a fire going as that was their primary form of heat. It started around the chimney where it penetrates the roof."
Drechsel said the couple reported hearing "crackling" noise just before the smoke alarm went off.
"The alarm definitely helped alert them of the fire," Drechsel said.
The fire was contained to the trailer. Drechsel estimated the total loss, including the structure and personal belongings, to be between $30,000 and $40,000.
"The structure is probably a total loss because of its age," Drechsel said, adding the fire left a big hole through the middle.
Items destroyed included furniture, kitchen items and a computer. Some belongings were smoke-damaged, but spared.
The couple was given $200 from the Timberlake firefighter union benevolent fund to help with immediate costs.
Drechsel said two fire extinguishers were used by the male in an attempt to put out the fire.
Homeowners are encouraged to have their chimneys cleaned and inspected by a trained professional, Drechsel said.