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Newlyweds look to rebuild their lives after devastating fire

Dan and Amy Lynds on Thursday: “We’ll be fine.” - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
Dan and Amy Lynds on Thursday: “We’ll be fine.”
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

A young couple who lost nearly everything but each other in a fire Tuesday are starting to look ahead, slowly and wistfully, to a new life.

“I’ve got my shop, got my dogs, got my husband,” Amy Lynds said Thursday.

“We’ll be OK,” said her husband, Dan Lynds, 23, taking her hand.

“We’ll be fine,” she said back.

Eight days before Christmas and five days before Amy Lynds’ 25th birthday on Sunday, the couple, married in August, came home Tuesday afternoon to find their double-wide manufactured home in Freeland destroyed by fire.

But for their three Rottweilers, which only by chance had been elsewhere, the fire took all of their furniture, their clothing, their CDs, their DVDs, their books, their computer, Amy Lynds’ flute, their wedding cards, their knickknacks, their food and every one of their other pets.

Lost in the flames were four cats; more than 20 pet and exotic birds; eight reptiles, including snakes, geckos, lizards and a chameleon; and some fish in tanks.

“Amy’s always been a pet person,” her father, Kelly Reid, said Wednesday as he poked through what was left of the house. “You have to live and learn as you go.”

The only thing that escaped undamaged was Amy Lynds’

wedding dress, which recently had been packed in a container.

“Everything else was incinerated,” she said. “It’s a living nightmare.”

A neighbor called Island County Fire District 3 about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, reporting steam rising from the top of the house at 1519 Roy Road.

When firefighters arrived, flames had taken over the home completely.

The probable cause of the blaze was a knocked-over heat lamp used to keep the reptiles warm, said Mike Cotton, District 3 deputy chief.

“We’ll never, ever use one of those again,” Dan Lynds said Thursday.

Both Lynds had been at work. A South End dog groomer, she had recently opened Four Paws Only Pet Salon in Freeland. He had gotten a job last month as a meat wrapper at the Red Apple markets in Bayview and Clinton.

Amy Lynds arrived home to see firefighters working their way through her smoldering house.

She said she started screaming “My cats! My cats!”

Her sister-in-law, Allysa Reid, who lives nearby, had just returned home with her children, when she saw the fire and heard the commotion.

“I just ran over and was huging and holding her, trying to calm her down,” Reid said. “Everything they owned was in there, and everything is gone.”

Kelly Reid said he and his wife, Janet, bought the property recently, intending to build a new home on the land. The 35-year-old double-wide came with it.

When their daughter’s pet collection became too large for the family home along Bayview Road in Clinton, they agreed to let her move into the manufactured home.

“This is what’s left,” Kelly Reid said, pointing to the cinders.

“I don’t care about the building. I’m going to take it to the dump. At least no one got hurt.”

“Once I get this mess out of here, we’ll be fine,” he added. “I may put something else on the property.”

“This is one of the things that pulls families together,” said Jim Duccini, Reid’s brother-in-law and Amy Lynds’ uncle, as he rummaged through the ruins.

His wife, Nancy, had just opened a donation account at Washington Mutual Bank in the couple’s name, he said.

The Lynds had lived there since February. They had no insurance. Now they’re living with her parents until they find another place.

Amy Lynds grew up in the South End. Her husband arrived here about five years ago from Utah.

They said they plan to stay in the area, and she said that she wouldn’t mind finding a place in the same neighborhood.

“The problem is finding someone who will take three Rottweilers,” she said.

Family members on both sides have pledged to help them get going again, and the congregation at their church, the South Whidbey Assembly of God, has been supportive. The Red Cross also has offered assistance.

It was the second electrical fire in the South End in two days. Monday morning, one Sunlight Beach summer house was destroyed and the one next to it gutted by a fire blamed on a faulty baseboard heater.

“You have to keep warm,” Cotton said, “but at this time of year you have to use extreme caution, too.”

“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” Amy Lynds said. “Just that morning, I was sitting with my cat in my lap, having a cup of coffee. Then I came home and there’s just a pile of ash.”

She said she had gotten her first cats during an emotional period in her life.

“They were there for me,” she said. “It really sucks that they’re gone.”

Anyone wishing to offer assistance to the Lynds can call Nancy Duccini at 331-7723. Donations can also be made at the Washington Mutual Bank in Freeland.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or rjacobson@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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