Issaquah family loses everything in house fire

December 22, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Firefighters battled a house fire at 4721 192nd Place S.E. for hours Dec. 21, but were unable to save it.

The owners of the home, a man and his pregnant wife, and their 1-year-old son, were not home. They were at a relative’s house having dinner. The family’s dog was outside the home, but was unharmed. But nothing appeared to be salvageable and investigators and neighbors said the family lost everything. The family declined to comment about the fire and was reluctant to ask for help, neighbors said.

Firefighters were called to the home at 4:16 p.m. by neighbor Steve Sanelli. They fought the blaze until about 11:30 p.m., according to Josie Williams, public information officer for Eastside Fire & Rescue.

Three engines from EFR, three engines from the Bellevue Fire Department and a ladder truck from the Redmond Fire Department responded to the blaze, which caused about $600,000 in damage, according to Gerry Kenny, a fire investigator for the King County Sheriff’s Office, who was at the home Dec. 22. The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

The smell of smoke and burnt wiring, plastic and other materials was still heavy in the air as Shay Weer, a building inspection supervisor for the city, taped off the area with red tape to keep neighbors and the homeowners out Dec. 22.

Sanelli said he was looking at the home, where he raised his four boys between 1982 and 1998, when he noticed smoke coming out the back.

“Right now, the house, my old house, is completely gutted,” he said. “I’ve seen two house fires in my life, one when I was a kid, but I’ve never seen one go up so fast.”

Sanelli and his family, as well as neighbors Matt and Cindy Wimmer are organizing relief efforts for the family; the mother is an Issaquah School District teacher, Sanelli said.

The family needs clothing for each member, and infant clothing, because the couple is expecting a new infant in the near future.

The family is staying with relatives in the area, but Sanelli said if they need a place to stay they have nearly 364 neighbors who will help with housing needs — “one for every day of the year.”

Take donations to

Steve and Melinda Sanelli’s Good Fellas Deli, 13555 S.E. 36th Place Suite LL1, in Bellevue from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Friday

The Sanelli home, 4724 192nd Place S.E. Call the business, 562-8768, or Steve’s cell phone, 444-4747.

The Wimmer home, 4708 193rd Place S.E. Call 746-9196.

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment on this story at

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