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Woman loses home in Freeland blaze

The charred dryer at left is blamed for starting a fire in Freeland on Saturday morning that destroyed this mobile home and killed a number of pets. The home’s occupant escaped uninjured. - Photo courtesy of Island County Fire District 3
The charred dryer at left is blamed for starting a fire in Freeland on Saturday morning that destroyed this mobile home and killed a number of pets. The home’s occupant escaped uninjured.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Island County Fire District 3

A Freeland woman is regrouping this week after losing her pet dog, her cat and kittens and most of her possessions in a mobile-home fire Saturday morning.

The woman, identified as Ann Donovan, was alone in her home about 8 a.m. drying a blouse to wear to work when the clothes dryer caught fire, said Peggy Berto, owner of Misty Meadows Mobile Village, near Fish and Woodard roads.

“The fire went from there to all over the trailer,” Berto said Tuesday. “It burned clear to the ground.”

A neighbor, Diane Brown, heard Donovan’s screams and called 911. Two other residents of the community also called the emergency dispatch center, Brown said.

Donovan fled the fire wearing only her pajamas and escaped injury, Brown said.

Meanwhile, Brown’s 19-year-old son, DJ Davis, ran in his underwear to the burning unit and pried open a section of the doorway, allowing two male cats to escape.

But Donovan’s adult pug dog died in the fire, along with the mother cat and her litter of “five or seven kittens,” which were in a dresser drawer, Brown said.

Berto said Donovan frantically tried to coax the pug, named Nana, from the fire.

“She was only three feet away, but she wouldn’t budge,” Berto said.

“She wouldn’t calm down after that,” Brown said of Donovan, “especially about the dog.”

Brown said neighbors threw a blanket around Donovan, and quickly moved her away from the flames.

Brown said Island County Fire District 3 units arrived about 10 minutes after the first 911 call.

“It was fully involved when we arrived,” Assistant Chief Paul Busch said. He said seven units responded.

Brown said Donovan lost all of her clothing, shoes, furniture and other possessions in the fire, but earlier this week she and residents of the community were able to recover some undamaged personal items and family photos.

“Then we buried the animals,” Brown said.

The fire spread to a nearby tree, which was quickly extinguished, Busch said. None of the other 10 units in the mobile-home park were damaged.

“Fortunately, they’re not close together,” Berto said.

Representatives of the Islands Chapter of the American Red Cross arrived quickly to provide assistance, Brown said.

Kim Cottrell, the group’s chief operating officer, said her agency is assisting Donovan with motel accommodations, food, clothing, medicine and other necessities, and may provide a month’s rent and deposit.

Meanwhile, Donovan is staying with her daughter in Greenbank, Cottrell said, but she declined to provide other personal information until Donovan signs a release.

Brown praised the Misty Meadows residents who rallied to help Donovan.

“We’re a very close family,” she said, “and the whole family pitched in.”

Brown especially thanked Good Cheer thrift stores in Clinton and Langley, which allowed her to pick out clothes and other items to give to Donovan immediately.

“They’re the real heroes,” Brown said.

Berto said she and her late husband bought Misty Meadows in 1963, when there was only one mobile home on 10.5 acres. The unit that burned had been installed about 1975, Berto said, and Donovan had been renting it.

Berto said it was Misty Meadows’ first fire.

“It was a crazy, crazy day,” Brown said.

To help Donovan, call the Red Cross chapter in Oak Harbor, 360-675-2912.

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