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Fire destroys Coupeville home

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighter Dustin Gardner mans a hose at a house fire on NE Leisure Street in Coupeville early Tuesday morning. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighter Dustin Gardner mans a hose at a house fire on NE Leisure Street in Coupeville early Tuesday morning.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

The home of a well-known Coupeville woman was destroyed by an early morning fire Tuesday.

Located on NE Leisure Street, the two-story, wood-and-brick structure belonged to Jeannette Omar. Known by many in the community by her maiden name of Kroon, Omar is the former longtime owner of the Knead and Feed restaurant on Coupeville's waterfront.

Omar could not be reached for comment by press time, but her sister, Marjory Homan, confirmed that she is safe and was staying at another sister's house in Snohomish County at the time of the fire.

According to Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin, the fire was reported by neighbors at about 2 a.m. and firefighters arrived to find the structure "fully involved" with the roof already caved in. The enormous size of the blaze may indicate that the fire started much earlier, he said.

"It had been burning for a couple hours," Hartin said.

The fire was so large that it lit the sky orange, a view that could be seen from North Main Street more than a mile away. And while the fire went unnoticed initially, it wasn't long before neighbors and city officials gathered to watch firefighters battle the raging inferno.

Many had obviously just jumped out of bed, including Coupeville Marshal David Penrod. Out of uniform in a long-sleeve shirt, Penrod was on the scene and began a telephone search to locate Omar. Her brown pickup truck was parked in the driveway but she was unaccounted for.

The uncertainty weighed heavily on many of Omar's neighbors, who were standing nearby anxiously awaiting word that she had been found safe.

"God I hope she's not in there," said Jerry Saia, who lives a few houses down.

Homan, Omar's sister, showed up and relieved everyone's concerns when she confirmed that Omar was staying with another sister in Snohomish County. The siblings run a business together and Omar stays there about five days out of the week, she said.

While she knew her sister was OK, Homan was still very distressed. The home was built by their parents in 1972 and was a total loss. It was irreplaceable, as were many of Omar's possessions inside. Rugs from Afghanistan, paintings; all of it was destroyed.

"Jeannette is such a hard worker," Homan said. "She doesn't deserve this."

"I just can't believe it," she added.

Although Omar lost everything, Homan said she probably won't need aid from the community due to her large family in Coupeville.

"The family will step in," she said.

In all, 14 firefighters, four fire engines – including one from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue –  two water tenders, and two rescue vehicles responded to the fire. According to Hartin, the fire was under control in about an hour but was not totally extinguished until about 6:30 a.m.

As for what sparked the blaze, Hartin said Tuesday morning that they were still working on an origin. It could be a few days before investigators know what happened.

"It's going to take a little time," Hartin said. "We've got several feet of debris to dig through."

He confirmed that were no telltale signs that would indicate arson.

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