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Community rallies after fire destroys Ferndale home

Woodlyn Road house interior after suspected chimney fire (December 20, 2016). Photo courtesy Janell Neever

After fire destroyed the home of a mom and her 3 kids in the early hours of Tuesday morning, many neighbors have stepped forward to help.

Whatcom County Fire District 7 Assistant Fire Chief Larry Hoffman said they were dispatched about 2am Tuesday to a report of a residential structure fire in the 7000 block of Woodlyn Road.

Per Hoffman, the mother and her 3 young children were home at the time of the fire. The mom had called it in and then waited outside with her kids in their car. No one was injured although a family cat was reported missing at the time.

“This appeared to be a chimney fire that had escaped into the attic area of the manufactured home,” said Hoffman. He said the house was a complete loss. The fire is being investigated by the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office and appears to be accidental.

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Later, after 8am that same morning, firefighters returned after another report of a fire at the home. Hoffman said it was a small hot spot kicked up by the morning winds.

But during that return trip, fire crews located and rescued the family cat who had been hiding in the structure. The cat, cold, wet and scared, was reunited with the family apparently unharmed.

According to friends, the family is temporarily living with family.

The family had been renting the manufactured home from locals Ty and Janell Neevel who were notified the night of the fire. By 4am, the Neevers had put out a call to their friends and family to help the displaced family. The Neevels knew all too well what this family was going through since nearly 4 years ago they too had lost their home to a fire.

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donations piled on landing for family displaced by fire 2016-12-21 janell neever
Donations for a family displaced by a house fire were piling up on the front landing at the Neevel’s house (December 21, 2016). Photo: Discover Ferndale

In the 24 hours following her plea, the response was overwhelming according to Janell. “It has been an honor to be part of this community! I had so many random people just stop by, ones that jumped out of their vehicle and said here is $20, please give it to the family that lost their home. My entire front porch and my entire salon are full of amazing things.”

For those wanting to make a donation, clothing sizes are

  • Boy: size 4T-5T, toddler shoe size 8
  • Boy: boys size 10, shoe size 5-1/2
  • Girl: size 4T, toddler shoe size 6
  • Mom: size 0, shoe size 8

Donations should be delivered to 6871 Northwest Drive (west side of Northwest Drive north of Pole Road), Ferndale WA 98248.

Cash donations to help them get into more permanent housing and furnishings can be mailed to the same address.

Janell said, “[To] each and every one of you, whether it was just a simple call or a little message or a donation of some sort, thank you for putting your hands around this family.”


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