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Fire destroys 1880s home in Medical Lake’s heart

Firefighters tried but failed to save a historic Medical Lake house from destruction in a raging fire Saturday afternoon.

Neighbors reported the fire on the 200 block of East Lake Street around 2:30 p.m., but by the time help arrived, flames had already engulfed the second story.

The homeowner, Michael Ludlam, lives in Billings and heard about the fire from his friends in Medical Lake.

“It looked like the top floor was gone,” he said, referring to photos he’d seen online. “I’m just trying to keep track of it from here.”

The house was built in the 1880s, and Bing Crosby may have stayed there, said Ludlam, who had planned to renovate the home and get it on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It was one of the original town structures,” he said. “I was trying to make it a historic bed and breakfast.”

Firefighters don’t know what caused the fire. Ludlam said vandals have targeted the house for months, but it is unclear whether that has any relation to the fire.

Ludlam received word that some witnesses heard an explosion in the house before the fire. All the utilities had been shut off since he has been out of town, Ludlam noted.

“I still had beds and all my appliances there,” he said. “I just had friends keeping an eye on it while I was gone, and now there’s nothing to come back to.”

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