As Terry Rookard, 93, was praying the Rosary, she had no idea a fire was burning above her in the attic space of her Gardiner home.
She and her son Willy Rookard, who was watching television, were alerted to the fire Friday night on April 26, he said, when nearby Alcoholics Anonymous members saw flames and smoke and ran over. Willy said he attempted to put the fire out with a garden hose but the home’s cedar shakes took off in flames too quickly.
Clallam County Fire District 3 Fire Chief Ben Andrews said they were phoned at 6:52 p.m. and a Blyn fire crew first arrived to the 2000 block of Old Gardiner Road at 7:01 p.m. to find flames consuming the home’s roof.
High winds and the tight confines of the attic made it a difficult fire to fight, Andrews said.
Initially, he said, the attic was the most affected from the fire, with water and smoke damage significantly affecting the other two stories.
Terry and Willy Rookard were safely removed from the home along with Terry’s dog Tita.
The home’s other two residents, Terry’s other son Earl Rookard and his daughter Teri Rookard were not at home when the fire began.
Teri Rookard said firefighters saved some of her grandmother’s keepsakes including heirloom quilts and family pictures of Terry and her husband Wilbert Rookard.
However, much of the family members’ other belongings were lost including all of Teri’s room.
Firefighters estimated they extinguished the fire at about 8:30 p.m.
The fire, however, rekindled with a flareup in the southeast corner of the home in the middle of the night, Andrews said.
Fire crews returned to extinguish the fire in the home again and they left a fire watch team for the rest of the night.
Andrews said their original plan was for Blyn firefighters to check on the home every two hours but it took them longer to report back due to other incoming calls for service.
He said fire crews were re-dispatched and re-extinguished the rekindled fire, which was contained to the southeast corner. The fire did not spread to the northern, front part of the home, Andrews said.
District 3 Assistant Fire Chief Dan Orr said investigators believe a fire began in the attic in connection to a wood stove.
He said the home is likely to be deemed a total loss.
For the initial fire, Andrews said eight fire engines arrived including support from Clallam County Fire District 2, Port Ludlow Fire and Rescue, East Jefferson Fire and Rescue, Quilcene Fire and Rescue volunteers, Jefferson County Fire District 5, Jefferson County PUD, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Olympic Ambulance.
Willy Rookard said the house was insured and they’re waiting to hear back from their insurance company.
A GoFundMe account for the family was started by local businesswoman Angee Conklin-Garcia with Jose’s Famous Salsa at www.gofundme.com/help-the-rookards with a goal of $10,000 to help the family with buying necessities.
Family members are staying in a nearby family member’s house but their future living situation hasn’t been determined, Willy Rookard said.
The three-story home is about 5,900 square feet and was built in 2001, he said.
Terry and Wilbert moved to the Sequim area in 1986 and owned Rookard Hardware with Willy Rookard. She’ll turn 94 on May 5, family members said.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.