South Cove family amazed by support after house fire
January 5, 2009
By Jim Feehan
Jessica and Paul Smith have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors, co-workers and people in the community following a Dec. 21 fire that destroyed their South Cove home.
The acts of kindness and generosity have been boundless, the Smiths said. South Cove neighborhood children donated $700 that they raised shoveling snow. Friend, neighbors and total strangers have donated items including cash, gift cards, clothing, running shoes, blankets, bedding, blankets, toiletries and luggage. The items fill the basement of Jessica’s parents home in Bellevue, where the couple and their 1-year-old son Grayson have stayed since the blaze.“Quite simply, it’s overwhelming. It’s a good overwhelming,” said Jessica Smith, a part-time third-grade teacher at Newcastle Elementary School. “We feel so blessed by what everyone has done for us.”
Grayson will be outfitted in clothing for the next two years and he has more toys than before the fire, she said. The Smiths have also received several baby items. Jessica Smith is five months pregnant; she’ll find out the child’s gender Jan. 13, she said.
The fire remains under investigation, but officials said they were 90 percent certain the blaze began in the kitchen, Paul Smith said. How it started is uncertain, he said.
The Smiths were at a relative’s house having dinner at the time of the fire. Shortly after 4 p.m., Steve Sanelli, a neighbor, spotted smoke coming from the back of the house.
The blaze caused about $600,000 in damage, according to Gerry Kenny, a fire investigator for the King County Sheriff’s Office. Sanelli and his family, as well as neighbors Matt and Cindy Wimmer, organized a relief effort for the Smiths.
The fire came two days prior to the Smith’s three-year anniversary of owning the house, Jessica Smith said. The couple plan to return to South Cove and rent a house in the neighborhood.
“We just love the neighborhood and we realize even more so now that we want to raise our children here to see them graduate,” Jessica Smith said.
Paul Smith, a general contractor, said the fire has taught the family the importance of community.
“I’m so humbled and grateful,” he said. “This whole experience has been overwhelming, amazing and the sheer volume of generosity has floored me.”
No one could be reached to talk about a Dec. 23 fire that destroyed a house off Southeast Tiger Mountain Road south of Issaquah. Earlier that day, a neighbor had taken the owners of the house — an elderly couple — to SeaTac airport, where they flew to Salt Lake City to visit their son for Christmas.
The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.