Five house fires in 24 hours

A rash of house fires has struck in Thurston County in recent days, with fire departments responded to five in a 24-hour period – three Thursday evening and two more Friday afternoon.

The fires are the latest in a string that can’t be attributed to any one cause, local fire officials said. They did reiterate the importance of fire safety, both in making sure homes have working smoke detectors and in ensuring that heating sources being used in cold weather do not cause a fire hazard.

Jerry Gilliland’s home on Walnut Loop on Olympia’s west side was destroyed Thursday night, most likely after a candle in the living room fell from a wall sconce, he said.

Gilliland lived at the home with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, as well as two granddaughters, ages 8 and 6. All six family members made it out of the home after a smoke detector alerted them to the blaze a little after 7 p.m., but the family’s beagle, Ivy, died, Gilliland said.

Gilliland was back at his home Friday afternoon, trying to salvage any belongings that hadn’t been destroyed. He said he was able to save precious little, including jewelry and family photos from the home, where he has lived since 1987.

Gilliland wiped away a tear with a white handkerchief as he pondered his next step. He said that for now, the family is staying in a hotel provided through his home insurer.

“We burned up every coat we have, and almost every shoe,” he said.

Standing outside Gilliland’s home, Olympia fire inspector Randy Haines added: “It’s just devastating to see. It’s just heartbreaking what the families go through.”

A waterfront home in the 7000 block of Shore Acres Drive Northeast also was destroyed by fire Thursday night. The homeowner, who declined to be identified, said he thinks the fire started in the garage, and it might have been electrical. Several vehicles, including a Ferrari, were destroyed in the garage, along with the house and everything it contained.

Firefighters responded to a third fire in the 3000 block of Angus Drive north of Tenino about 5:50 p.m. Thursday. Tenino Fire District 12 officials said Gibson Valley Fire District 16 was in charge of fighting the fire. Officials at the Gibson Valley Fire District could not be reached Friday.

By Friday evening, two more Thurston County fires were ongoing – one in the 100 block of Second Street in Yelm, the other at a house in the 5600 block of Forest Shores Drive in McLane Fire District 9.

Lacey Fire Battalion Chief Steve Crimmins said that since mid-November, firefighters have responded to seven structure fires in Lacey. On Sunday, a house fire on 20th Avenue between College and Judd streets displaced a family, he said. On Tuesday, a fire destroyed a home on 22nd Avenue, he added. Tuesday’s fire in Lacey was caused by a baseboard heater in a storage room that turned on automatically because of low temperatures and ignited combustible materials, he said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465