Weekend blaze guts family's home

"A family of three safely escaped from a fire that gutted their home early Saturday morning on Southwest Klickitat.Oak Harbor Fire Battalion Chief Ray Merrill said the residents, Philip and Bobbi Gormley, were awake at around 2:30 a.m. and went outside after they heard a noise on their deck.They found flames running along the deck and onto the wall of the house, so they got their 4-year-old daughter out of bed and evacuated the house.Several neighbors awoke to an explosion when a propane tank on the deck burst from the heat of the blaze.Merrill said it took two fire engines from the Oak Harbor Fire Department and an engine from the Navy fire department at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station about 20 minutes to get the fire under control. But by that time, the house was a total loss.The Gormleys got out of the home unscathed, but a firefighter sustained a minor neck injury fighting the inferno.Merrill said the fire apparently started on the deck attached to the house, but the cause is still under investigation.It appears to be accidental, he said.Lt. Cmdr. Nigel Turl at Naval Ocean Processing Facility, a submarine-spotting station at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, said Philip Gormley is a Canadian Navy enlisted man working at the co-manned U.S. and Canadian operation. Gormley is a watchstander.Turl said the community quickly came to the family's aid. A neighboring family took them into their home immediately after the fire until the Red Cross put them up in a local hotel.Luckily, Turl said the Gormleys had renters' insurance on the home. The Navy has given him time off, Turl said, to get his life back in order.From this experience, (Philip Gormley) said he learned never to take the small things for granted, Turl said.Turl also said the family doesn't need donations from the community, but if people are so inclined, the family would like donations to be made to the Red Cross.You can reach staff reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.. "

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