Fire also destroyed Sultan records

  • Mon Dec 27th, 2010 7:40pm
  • News

By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer

SULTAN — The fire that burned down the Boys &Girls Club on Christmas Eve claimed personal items, musical instruments, toys, memories — and possibly important city records.

Community members and teens gathered Monday to prepare the nearby Sky Valley Family and Community Resource Center to continue providing services for children and youth.

There was a sense of loss among volunteers.

“I compare it to a loss of a family member,” said Matthew Maddock, 19. “It’s weird like that.”

The Boys &Girls Club of Snohomish County at 705 First St. provided child care for kids between kindergarten and fifth grade and was a place for teens to gather.

Meanwhile, the building also housed the city’s public works department, including important historical documents including maps of sewer and water lines and information about dam construction.

It is unknown how many city records were lost. Sultan has hired a restoration company to see what can be saved, City Administrator Deborah Knight said.

Mayor Carolyn Eslick said the city is in “crisis mode.”

“We take one step at a time,” she said.

Her biggest concern are the youths.

“The most important is for the kids to have a place to stay,” she said.

The Sultan Boys &Girls Club had a teen center, which was built with money raised by teenagers five years ago.

The center went up in flames — along with guitars, drums, computers and game systems.

Some of those were personal items of the teens, said Mike Maddock, Matthew’s father.

“It was a second home,” he said. He is also the teen director for the Boys &Girls Club.

About 10 percent of enrolled children for the Sultan School District have participated at the center, Maddock said.

On Monday morning, the Maddocks and five other teens were moving furniture inside the Sky Valley Family and Community Resource Center, at 617 First St., to accommodate the Boys &Girls Club’s youth programs as well as child care and senior services.

The club’s occupancy there is open-ended. It is unknown if the burned building can be rebuilt, Unit Director Kami Prutsman said.

Boys &Girls Club services will continue as before, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., she said.

The main goal is to make the transition as easy as possible for the 30 to 50 kids who used the services daily.

“It will be hard to provide a sense of security after something like this,” she said.

The community response was swift. During the weekend, residents brought toys and games to the community center.

The organization provided after- and before-school child care for 30 families and to 20 pre-school children, Prutsman said. They continue to accept new enrollment.

The community center belongs to Volunteers of America. The only effect the new tenants would have on that organization’s programs is changing the schedule for Boy Scout meetings and events at the senior center, director Dave Wood said.

County residents and businesses have stepped up to help the Boys &Girls Club with donations.

“It’s really not surprising,” Wood said. “This is a community that really cares.”

The fire is not regarded as suspicious in origin, but the cause is still unknown, Sultan police chief Jeff Brand said Monday.

The investigation has been turned over to insurance companies covering the city of Sultan and the Boys &Girls Club of Snohomish County. If they find anything suspicious, they will alert the fire marshal, Brand said.

It could take until next week for a cause to be found, he said.

The county fire marshal did a preliminary investigation on Friday. There is video that shows sparks and fire starting in the north end of the second floor, Brand said.

On Monday morning, officials of the city, Volunteers of America and the Boys &Girls Club met to discuss what steps to take next, but there are many unknowns, said Bill Tsoukalas, executive director for the Boys &Girls Club of Snohomish County.

Assessing property loss is one task.

The Boys &Girls Club has umbrella coverage of about $8 million. The language of the lease will decide which insurance policy would pay for the damages, he said.

To Dane Netherton, 14, the important thing is to rebuild.

“We had memories there, but we can do new ones,” he said.

Alejandro Dominguez; 425-339-3422; adominguez@ heraldnet.com.