Chickens, bunny survive fire

A ferret was the only casualty of fire that destroyed a small barn in the middle of a miniature hobby farm in the San de Fuca area Tuesday night.

“Amazingly enough, all the chickens and the bunny survived,” said Sherri Olson. She, her husband, Mark, and their four sons live at the Power Road rental property with their dogs, birds and a few small animals.

Unfortunately, the family lost some heirlooms, camping gear, a lawn mower, tools and other items in the blaze.

Olson said her son, Marky, was playing in the house and first heard the crackling sound of the fire and thought it was rain until he saw the smoke outside. By the time she saw the fire, Olson said the flames were already devouring the older, 30-foot-by-40-foot building

Marv Koorn, chief with Island County Fire District 2, said the structure was “fully involved” when firefighters arrived just after 6:30 p.m. The heat was so fierce that it cracked the back windows of the house. By that point, the only things firefighters could do was contain the fire by spraying down adjacent buildings with water, then start suppressing the fire.

The response was impressive. Koorn said two tankers, three engines, a command rig and a duty rig responded to the scene from District 2. They were joined by an engine and a tanker from Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

Olson said she immediately took the ferret from a pen up against the barn, but the animal later succumbed to smoke inhalation. A firefighter rescued her big, fuzzy Angora rabbit from a hutch next to the barn. Chickens in an enclosure that was also up against the barn seemed surprisingly nonplussed, even a little curious, about the fire and all the firefighters. The dogs barked.

Olson said her family used the barn for storage. Part of the barn, which was locked, was filled with items owned by the landlord. Olson said she wasn’t sure what the owner lost, but an older, possibly vintage, car was destroyed in the fire.

The most unfortunate loss for the family, Olson said, were the “sentimental things” consumed in the fire. Among the clothing and photos, she said she had packed away her “mom’s stuff when she passed away” in the building.

Koorn said a couple of firefighters sustained “very minor injuries” in fighting the blaze. One firefighter twisted an ankle in the rubble and another injured his hand when a board fell.

Whatever sparked the fire, however, remains a mystery. Olson said she has no idea how it started. It was investigated by Detective Mark Plumberg with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, but he said the cause was “undetermined.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

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