Tuesday fire claims South Whidbey home

Fire consumes a house on South Whidbey. The blaze occurred late Tuesday afternoon and destroyed the two-story building. - Justin Burnett / The Record
Fire consumes a house on South Whidbey. The blaze occurred late Tuesday afternoon and destroyed the two-story building.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Fire destroyed a large house on South Whidbey today.

The blaze was reported at about 5 p.m. at a home on Longwood Lane, off Ewing Road.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS crews battled the blaze for hours, dumping an estimated 40,000 gallons of water on the structure, but the house couldn't be saved, district officials said.

"This was a loss before we got here," Fire Chief Rusty Palmer said.

About three-fourths of the home was reportedly already on fire when the first 9-1-1 call came in.

Once on scene, fire crews coordinated their attack and were able to save at least two outbuildings, an adjacent two-story garage/barn and a nearby firewood shed.

Palmer confirmed the house was empty of both humans and animals.

The two-story home belongs to Jan Quade, a lifelong South Whidbey resident. She was out with a friend for several hours and was at the head of her long driveway when she noticed heavy smoke coming from the house.

"Then we saw fire and that's all she wrote," Quade said.

Quade lives alone, but family members who live on the island arrived quickly. Together they watched firefighters battle the inferno.

"It's crazy," said Leslie Wallin, shaking her head in disbelief as she looked at the burning remains of her childhood home.

Wallin is Quade's daughter and an Oak Harbor resident. She and her siblings grew up in the rural house, which was nestled between ponds and large cedar trees on a 10-acre property.

"I just love it out here," Wallin said.

Quade said she is fortunate to have lots of family on the island and that she will have a place to stay, but she lost everything in the fire.

"Right now, I just don't have a clue what I'm going to do," Quade said.

According to Palmer, the cause of the fire is unknown.

He described the blaze as a large house fire that was hard to fight due to it's rural location and lack of water supply.

The district had up to five hoses hitting the structure with water at one time, and firefighters actually ran out of water for about 15 minutes.

A shuttle system of water tenders was established and firefighters were able to continue the fight.

The blaze was largely out by 7 p.m., but Palmer estimated fire crews would likely be at the site until 10 p.m. putting out hot spots — pockets of embers or coals that could reignite the structure.

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