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All that's left are ashes

Charred remains of a mobile home are the Axelson family has. - Jessie Stensland
Charred remains of a mobile home are the Axelson family has.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland

An Oak Harbor couple and their two small children lost just about everything they own in a fire at the M&M Mobile Home Park early Friday morning.

Jason Axelson and Mindy Palmer were heading home after a night out when they got a call from the woman who was babysitting their children. Their single-wide mobile home was on fire. Fortunately, the babysitter smelled the smoke and got everyone out.

“By the time we got there,” Axelson said, “it was engulfed in flames. It was all the way into the kitchen area.”

Island County Fire District 2 Chief Mick Lamar said the first 911 call came in as a “disturbance” in the park at 2:58 a.m. But police arrived and saw flames showing from the house, so the the fire district was alerted.

Lamar said firefighters from District 2, Oak Harbor and the Navy all arrived within minutes of each other, but they found the house was “completely involved in flames.” Firefighters protected nearby homes with water and kept the fires from spreading, but the mobile home was a “total loss.” An adjacent lean-to garage was saved.

Lamar said firefighters cleared the scene around 6 a.m. The fire started in the main bedroom, he said, but the fire damage was so extensive it was difficult to tell how it started.

Neighbor Ron Kassuhn had fallen asleep on the couch when the babysitter knocked frantically at the door, alerting him of the fire. He ran into the house with a fire extinguished and put out the flames in the bedroom. After the extinguisher ran out, he went outside to get a hose, but it wasn’t working.

By the time he re-entered the house about a minute later, the fire had started up again and flames were licking the ceiling and windows were popping out. Ten minutes later, he said, it was fire was all over.

Kassuhn said he was stunned by the speed of the fire, especially since he lives in a very similar mobile home. In fact, he said plans to move out.

According to Lamar, the home was “a vintage trailer” from the 1960s or ‘70s. To make matters worse, he said there was “board and batting” paneling on the outside of the trailer that “kept heat in and added fuel to the fire.”

“These trailers are spooky,” Lamar said. “People need to have smoke detectors and have (the trailers) inspected regularly.”

Axelson said Red Cross came to the scene of the fire and set the family up in temporary housing. His two kids, two- and four-year-old boys, are “doing OK” but are confused by what happened.

They’ve lost everything but their van and some toys. They recently bought a computer, which was burned to a crisp. Axelson said he didn’t even have any renter’s insurance to cover the loss.

Friday morning, Axelson returned to the home to rummage through the garage to find shoes for his kids.

To help the family out, park manager Pat Rivera said the park is taking donations for the family. They can be sent to the M&M Mobile Home Park, care of the Axelson family, 1811 NE Sixteenth Avenue, #15, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

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