Small Town News

Disaster and Accident

Firefighters save barn animals after blaze

The Issaquah Press of Issaquah, Washington

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The community of families that live just off of Cedar Grove Road Southeast, near Four Lakes, is a close-knit bunch. So close, in fact, that they often take vacations together.

Sheri Greenman, however, had to sit out the latest one, while her neighbors and friends visited a remote property in Oregon the week of June 17.

Commitments kept Green-man home, but as any friendly neighbor would do, she agreed to look after her friends' properties, all of which sit on large-acreage plots.

Before heading to work June 21, Greenman did a quick perusal of the neighborhood, where everything appeared normal. At about 10:30 a.m., though, she received a frantic voicemail from a neighbor.

A small barn on one of her vacationing neighbors' properties was on fire.

"I flew home and by the time I got home, the fire department was here," she said. "I think there were two or three trucks there, but the fire was completely out."

Several Eastside Fire & Rescue personnel responded from Station 71 on East Sunset Way, Station 72 on Northwest Maple Street, and the Issaquah High-See lands. While the barn was a lost cause, nearly all of its occupants were escorted to safety.

"I mean that place is flattened, absolutely flattened," Greenman said. "But when I got there, everything was under control except for the animals."

So began the task of ensuring that the animals a mixture of goats, chickens and horses — were safely accounted for, and to Greenman's surprise, every single firefighter stayed to help with the task.

"They stayed there until they knew the horses were fine, until the goats had a secure place to stay, even if the chickens were OK, and I was completely thrown back and impressed by that," she said. "The fire was out. They could have gone home, and they didn't."

The homeowners immediately raced home from Oregon when they heard the news. They were understandably devastated, Greenman said, especially when they were unable to recover a few young chickens, though one did turn up later.

"I found one," she said. "It came running out of the woods at me and ran straight to my feet, and poor little thing, I picked it up, and he had a little burn on his foot, but we got him all taken care of."

The homeowners declined to be interviewed, though they did release a statement through Greenman thanking the firefighters.

"Eastside Fire & Rescue rocked," they said. "We are very thankful for what the firefighters did, putting out the fire, but also saving our animals and making sure they were safe. We can't tell you enough how much we appreciate your time and willingness to care for our animals. Thank you from our heart."

Greenman said she had never seen such a show of generosity, with firefighters even following up later that day to make sure everything was OK.

"I think the bottom line is, for what I expect from the average person, I think they went way over and above what most people would have done," she said.

It is all a part of the job, though, said EFR Deputy Chief Greg Tryon, who helped escort the goats to safety.

"It's a bit of service. It really is," he said. "Here are two goats whose home just burned down and it's just sort of a natural fit to say, 'Hey, let's make sure they are OK.'"

Many of the firefighters have barn animals of their own, Tryon said, so they empathized with the homeowners.

"I understand and completely get the fact that these aren't just animals," he said. "This is part of their family, this is part of their life."

The cause of the fire had not yet been determined, though it was likely a wiring issue, Tryon said. In any case, there does not appear to be any foul play, he said.

Copyright 2013 The Issaquah Press, Issaquah, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 3, 2013

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