Family realizes community’s grace after home burns
SNOHOMISH — As a local family comes to terms with a house fire that destroyed their home and killed a beloved pet, the community has rallied to shelter, feed and comfort them.
It was a quiet Wednesday afternoon Nov. 14. Megan Anderson was in Olympia visiting her mother. Her adult son Josiah, who lives with her, left their house on Three Lakes Road to run errands. By the time he returned, the 1959 rambler was engulfed, making the Andersons homeless.
The house meant much more than a roof over her head to Megan Anderson. The yellowish-green home was partly built by her late father and imbued with childhood memories.
By the time she returned a couple days later, all that remained was a shell. She says the fire marshal attributed the fire to a power strip in their carport.
Compounding the loss, the family did not have home insurance. They also both have disabilities that render them unable to work. And one of their Hungarian sheepdogs, Muppet, died in the fire.
In the dark aftermath of the blaze, the Andersons found they were not alone.
As they grieved, Snohomish resident Kathy Kennard and her husband Richard were busy praying and planning. She had met with Anderson en route home from Olympia a day after the fire, which gave a steadying presence after the tragedy.
Then, “we sat down and started praying for them, that God would open up the possibility of people helping them,” Kathy Kennard said.
Next she posted a message on the Nextdoor website that connects people living in the same neighborhood. From there, her appeal was shared to a popular Facebook page for Snohomish residents.
Two hours later, she received a message. Kathy Kennard called it an answer to prayers.
A local couple was looking to donate a fifth wheel trailer. They initially thought about victims of the Camp Fire in California. But they stopped to wonder if there was someone in need locally, Kennard said.
The “RV, that turned everything around. It changes everything to have a safe place to sleep,” Anderson said.
A generator loan came next.
“People have called, texted, emailed.” They’ve given “gift cards, cash, blankets. pillows and towels, clothes, I mean it’s just the Snohomish people have just been amazing … Whatever the need has been so far, (the donation), it’s just been popping up,” Kathy Kennard said.
Anderson hesitated to accept charity. She knows how hard people work for what they have, she explained. But she said once her son prompted her to accept the help, she realized just how much beauty it brought out in those around her to share what they had.
“It’s an absolute godsend how generous, very generous and unselfish (people) are, these are not rich people,” she said.
Along with her neighbors’ generosity, Anderson steadies herself with the memories held by the trees that fill her property.
“‘The land was what was important to your father anyway,’” she remembers her mother saying.
Her father owned a nursery and many special plants thrive on her four-acre plot. While a rare Jiro Shidare Japanese Maple was lost, several meaningful and beautiful Japanese Maples and other trees survived.
There are the apple trees that were a wedding gift to her parents; a huge rhododendron transplanted from her grandmother’s home; an evergreen she estimates at 70 feet tall that was planted as a seedling. And there were the cherry trees she’d begged her dad to plant. She remembered at first he resisted, saying the birds would get all the fruit and leave only a mess. Years after his death, she discovered them, his last gift to her: “He did that for me and he never told me.”
On the day of the fire, Anderson received an unexpected gift too: she found out her daughter was pregnant. The baby will be her first grandchild. The joyous news only motivated her more to pass on her family’s legacy.
“I promised my dad I’d take care of it. I haven’t given up and I’ve dug my heels in … I’m convinced we will rebuild it … we will rise from these ashes.”
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