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Animals lost in devastating barn fire in Duvall

The Woodinville Weekly of Woodinville, Washington

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Community responds quickly to help family

"I have lived in many nice places around the country," Amy Parker said two days after a devastating fire destroyed her family's barn and took the lives of several beloved farm animals. "But because of this community I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. The people here are very special. They are so generous. People have brought food, left halters, some of them brand new, and blankets for the horses. Strangers have stopped and given me money. It's very humbling."

The fire began in the early morning hours of April 13. The family was sleeping, but the fire awakened two sets of neighbors who called 911. Duvall Fire Department crews, were first- on the scene, followed by Eastside Fire & Rescue and Fall City and Redmond fire departments. Amy and her husband Miles were awakened by the firefighters who were then told of the horses that were still inside the barn. Firefighters were able to rescue five horses (one suffered burns and smoke inhalation and had to be euthanized the next day). Lost in the fire were a mini-horse named Cocoa, three alpacas and seven baby chicks. A couple of rabbits that had taken shelter under the barn were found injured but okay enough to be sent to a rabbit rescue, Parker said. "They were here only because a neighbor had decided to let all his rabbits loose."

The barn, built in 1989, consisted of stalls, a tack room and hay storage. Inside were about two tons of hay and 10-12 bins of animal feed, Parker said. Several other horses are boarded outside, she said, so all the feed and tack for them was destroyed. Kiki, the horse that had to be euthanized, was a rescue and owned by Parker's friend Janelle Braun. "Janelle is very knowledgeable about horses and has done a lot of rescues," Amy said.

The family, including daughters Anna, 13, and Kate, 11, own the other four horses saved from the fire. The family has lived on the 5-acre property off Big Rock Road for only a couple of years, but almost as soon as they moved in, they "started collecting" animals. "First were the alpacas," Parker recalled. "Then the horses. We're still just beginning riders; we just ride on the trails."

Still feeling overwhelmed and emotional after the disaster, she admits she gets much of her comfort from a 175-pound bundle of St. Bernard love named Angus, who, at that moment, was snoring heavily on the kitchen floor. "It all just seems surreal," she said.

An initial determination by the fire investigator of the cause of the fire was that it started in an electrical outlet inside the barn, she said. "We first worried it might have been the heat lamp for the baby chicks, but since they still had all their down after they were found, that wouldn't have been the cause."

It didn't take long for news of the fire to get out. Community members and friends ramped up their efforts to help right away, letting people know on Facebook what the family needed.

"They (the community) lifted us all up and have made a great example to my children of people they can be when they grow up," Parker said. "A neighbor came over and wanted to pay the vet bill. Rocking 'E' Feeds has helped us tremendously. And Don Stanwyck (alpaca farm owner), who has been a mentor, has helped so much with our menagerie. He is such a tremendous addition to the community." Other helpers she wants to thank include Paul Laudanski, Colleen Mastro, Lindsay Zager and Darby Hart.

Collection jars have been placed in Twice Blessed Consignment, Country Collections, Duvall Family Drugs and Rocking "E" Feeds. A GoFundMe site has raised over $16,000 (as of last Friday). There was insurance on the structure, but there is a large deductible, Parker said, so money raised will help build a new shelter, buy feed, replace boarders' equipment including medicines, and help Braun, who not only lost her horse, but all her saddles and tack.

Duvall/Fire District 45 Deputy Chief Joel Kuhnhenn said the first call came in at 2:37 a.m. Although he wasn't at the fire, he said the report stated that after firefighters knocked on the door and started setting up their hoses, the resident appeared and said there were horses in the barn. "The fire crew made every effort to evacuate the horses — it was definitely life-threatening for them — and once that was done they could continue with fire suppression. The fire was hard to put out because the metal roof had collapsed on the materials underneath. The fire investigator's report isn't yet complete, but it does look like the cause was electrical."

Parker said she was so impressed by the actions of the fire crew that night. "Their heroism was a wonder to behold," she said. "I have never seen anything like it.

"If anything comes out of this, is the hope that people will be more careful about their electrical outlets," she said. "The fire investigator said that barn outlets should be checked about every five years because of moisture."

Updates and a video can be found on Facebook's Parker Fire Organization Page.



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Original Publication Date: April 20, 2015



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