By Laurelle Walsh
Salvaging what he could from his grandparents’ fire- and smoke-damaged home, Cameron Hebert spent much of Sunday (Feb. 9) working alongside his friend, Fire District 6 Commissioner Darold Brandenburg, pulling furniture and family belongings out of the blackened rooms.
“My grandparents would like to rebuild if necessary,” Hebert said. “Whatever it takes, whether it means repairing the damage or starting over from scratch.”
The fire in Frank and Anna Hebert’s Chewuch River vacation home at 34 South Maughan Rd. was reported around 8 p.m. on Saturday by a neighbor, according to District 6 Chief Don Waller.
Nobody was home at the time of the fire, said Hebert, who had come over from Bellingham on Friday night, intending to spend part of the weekend snowmobiling with friends. He stoked the fire on Saturday morning, plowed the driveway, and then spent the rest of the day away from the house, working on snowmobiles and having dinner with the Brandenburgs, he said.
A phone call from Maughan Road neighbor Bev Schulz alerted him to the fire, Hebert said.
“The fire started in the chimney face,” said Waller, who described the metal chimney construction surrounded by wood as “fairly common.” The cause of the fire was still under investigation, Waller said on Monday (Feb. 10).
Fighting Saturday night’s fire was made more difficult by the triple-layered ceiling that “took the firefighters hours to open up,” according to Brandenburg. “The firefighters are exhausted after fighting house fires two nights in a row,” he said Sunday morning.
“Saturday’s fire was very tough and physically demanding,” Waller said. Twisp firefighter Jake Hoffman sustained a “minor shoulder injury” when a 2 x 6 “came down and hit him on the shoulder,” said Waller.
And conducting a detailed investigation inside the house became dangerous when concrete blocks started falling out of the fireplace, according to Waller. “The fireplace wasn’t safe to work around,” he said.
Firefighters stayed on the scene until around 2 a.m. Sunday, Waller said.
Twelve hours later, the district’s volunteer firefighters were called out again to the third house fire of the weekend at 208 Twin Lakes Drive.
Fire crews arrived at the Twin Lakes home around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday to find the second floor ablaze.
According to Waller, the homeowner had been attempting to thaw an outdoor water spigot by building a fire on the ground within a metal ring. The homeowner left the fire unattended, and some time later was alerted by a neighbor that the RV that was parked next to the house had caught fire.
“The fire burned the RV and then got into the eaves of the house and the second story,” Waller said. No one was injured in the fire, but the house was “pretty close to a total loss,” Waller said.
The weekend’s spate of fires began on Friday night, when a single-wide mobile home at 3 Rivers Edge Lane off West Chewuch Road burned to the ground. Waller reported that a teenager who was home alone had been melting wax on the stove and “forgot about it.” The teen was able to get out of the home unhurt, he said.
Waller estimates that the district’s firefighters spent 22 hours on the three fire calls over the weekend, including time spent at the station after each fire “getting everything back in service.”
“I can’t say enough about our firefighters; I am grateful and proud,” said Waller.
“It was very difficult on them. Their weekend was consumed by this,” Waller added. “They went beyond what most people would expect.”