After a blessedly wet week in December, Jeffrey’s two-story shop and office building caught on fire. It was spotted from the air only about an hour after we had left the property. Numerous people on Orcas called it in and the response time for volunteer fire personnel was amazingly rapid — greatly aided by a barge operator-friend who was in the area. He transported the wildland’s crew from Orcas to Obstruction Island.
By the time the fire fighters arrived the building was totaly engulfed in flames and the roof had collapsed. There was nothing to be done except see that the fire didn’t spread. In that respect we were very fortunate that the island was so saturated and that there was no wind that day. Two stories of Douglas fir slab siding, fully engulfed, make an extremely hot fire! The thermal column was very high and cinders covered a wide area.
Jeffrey arrived about an hour after the fire crews. None of the few spectators had thought to check and see if he was on the other side of Obstruction Island, working at the cabin he has been building since May. Only when he happened to show up were they able to figure out our water system. With him there ,they were able to start his excavator and push the fire together.
My grandson and I arrived at the Orcas pass right before they left the fire.We were told that there was a structure fire on Obstruction. Whose? Someone named Jeff! As we crossed the water, we could see the flames through the trees.
Jeffrey lost everything. Huge saws with cast iron bases were twisted like sponges. Many items totally disappeared — including whatever started it. We have no idea. Jeffrey lost all of his new Hasse sails for his 1951 John Alden sloop. Lost were so many of the boat’s old boards (in the shop to be use as templates for new ones) that he may be unable to complete the restoration.
His 1944 military jeep was severly damaged where it was being restored behind the shop. However he as started with a complete restoration and is making progress. He doesn’t know how he will rebuild the shop, nor which of many dreams he will continue to pursue.
I should mention that our insurance company has been a real support at a difficult time — no bad feeling there! In addition the outpouring of help has gone beyond words of sympathy to real help. I don’t think Jeffrey realized how many friends he had.
They have helped with the sifting of ashes (called the archeological dig) and in identifying the strange pieces. They helped with removing two full dump truck loads of ruined metal. We have cut down 8 damaged trees and erected a large temporary tent so Jeffrey can function while he decides what and how to build. A little used area in the main house has been turned into a temporary office. We like it well enough it may become his permanent office. Gradually life is beginning to resemble normal but will never be quite the same.
A good time to go sailing!