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Crews searching site of Terminal Building fire in Fairhaven locate human remains

Searchers found a body Tuesday morning in the ruins of the Fairhaven restaurant and coffee shop that was gutted by fire last week, according to a statement from the city of Bellingham.

Identification of the victim wasn’t immediately made, but Nathaniel V. Breaux, 39, owner of Harris Avenue Cafe and The Old Independent Coffeehouse, is missing and presumed to have died in the Dec. 16 fire.

Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Hewett said that investigators entered the building at 1101 Harris Ave. on Saturday, and their search continued Tuesday. Heavy equipment was used last week to remove some of the rubble and make the building safe to enter, Hewett said.

“During today’s search they located a deceased individual. Investigators immediately notified the Whatcom County medical examiner, who responded to the scene and removed the body for identification and further examination,” Hewett said in the statement.

“Methodical, time-consuming processes to safely search the building, locate and identify any victims, and determine the cause of the fire are necessary but understandably difficult for everyone involved,” Hewett said.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. The protocols followed in these circumstances protect the safety of search teams and the public, preserve the sanctity of the scene for the ongoing investigation, and provide as much compassion to family members as possible during this difficult time.”

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