Blaze burns Freeland home, none injured

Tim Storey reacts to seeing his house on fire Monday. - Justin Burnett / The Record
Tim Storey reacts to seeing his house on fire Monday.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

A fire seriously damaged a secluded two-story Freeland home on Monday.

Located on Evenstar Lane off Honeymoon Bay Road, the blaze is believed to have started shortly before 3 p.m. Firefighters arrived quickly and were able to douse the flames before they got out of control, but not before the upper story was severely burned.

“The whole house is destroyed, as far as smoke damage,” said Tim Shorey, the homeowner.

In the construction industry, Shorey built the home himself in 2006. He said the roof and ceiling insulation would need to be replaced, along with bamboo flooring that was soaked when the fire was extinguished.

Despite the damage, Shorey said the house might have been a total loss had it not been for the quick action of his neighbor, Marcella Zarifis, who saw the flames and called 9-1-1.

“Thank God,” said Shorey, crediting her with saving the house. 

Evenstar Lane is a private road in a wooded area, and the Zarifises are his only immediate neighbors. According to Chad Michael, deputy chief of Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue, had she not been home or the fire happened at night, the end result may have far worse.

The district covers an area peppered with country homes, many of which are similarly secluded. Vigilant neighbors are vital partners in island firefighting, Michael said.

“For us with so many rural homes, that’s critical,” he said.

Zarifis said she first noticed smoke coming from the deck area at about 3:10 p.m. Located next to an outdoor barbecue, she didn’t think anything of it but it became clear about 10 minutes later that this wasn’t a case of burning burgers.

She called the fire department, which she said arrived “pretty quick,” and then her husband who alerted Shorey.

“I said, ‘That’s funny dude, I’m working,’” Shorey recalled.

But it was no joke and he rushed home to find smoke pouring from the upper story. Racing into the burning house, he emerged shortly with an armful of firearms.

Fire officials on scene barred him from going back into the home to recover anything else until the blaze was out. With the help of South Whidbey Fire/EMS, the fire was tackled with three fire engines, two water tenders, and about 10 firefighters.

Michael said the cause of the fire remains undetermined, but that the origin was outside where the second story deck connects with the house. An electrical outlet initially considered a possible source was eliminated as the flames appear to have started below the outlet, Michael said.

Shorey confirmed he does carry homeowners insurance, but said it didn’t make the loss any easier. However, as he watched firefighters blast water through his roof with high-powered hoses, he managed to retain his sense of humor.

“I guess I don’t have to mow the lawn tonight as I’d planned,” Shorey said.


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