Family escapes house fire unharmed

February 9, 2009

By Kathleen R. Merrill

An Issaquah woman, her teenage daughter, and their two cats and two dogs escaped injury Feb. 3 when the attic of their downtown home caught fire.

Elizabeth Chubbuck awoke at 5:40 a.m. to the smell of burned plastic. She hunted around for a few moments to find the source and realized it was coming from the attic of her home in the 500 block of Northeast Alder Street. She awoke her 16-year-old daughter Elaine, tossed her animals out the back sliding glass door and grabbed her purse and keys.

They were out of the house in moments. Eight minutes after she woke, a ladder truck, three engines, a battalion truck, three fire investigators and numerous firefighters from Eastside Fire & Rescue’s nearby Station 71 were at the home. Spotlights lit the scene like a movie shoot.

But Chubbuck was calm as she talked with her friend Michelle Mohrland, who came to provide coffee and moral support.

“I just knew we had to get out of there quickly,” Chubbuck said. “I’m glad we’re all safe. As long as my daughter and my animals are safe, that’s all that matters.”

Firefighters told her the fire started with wiring in the attic, above her bedroom closet, Chubbuck said.

Capt. Steve Westlake approached her shortly after 6:30 to give her an update on the situation.

“We covered your clothes with plastic before we cut into the attic,” he said, to her obvious surprise. “We don’t usually have time to do stuff like that, but this time we did. We try to take care of people.”

Chubbuck has been staying with a friend since the fire, but was hoping to be back in her home by Feb. 10 or 11.

Reach Editor Kathleen R. Merrill at 392-6434, ext. 227, or Comment on this story at

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