By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
MONROE — From behind a cyclone fence in a parking lot below, Shannon Sica coaxingly called up to her second-floor apartment unit.
A day after Sunday’s early morning fire left nearly three dozen Monroe residents homeless, Sica held on to the faint hope that her black tabby had somehow survived the smoke and flames.
The curtains to her apartment danced in a gentle breeze, giving the teasing illusion of movement inside.
Her Monday morning was a tug-of-war between hope and tears.
Sica, 32, and her husband, Silvio, escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. They didn’t have time to scoop up Joey in the chaos.
Despite losing her home, belongings and, most likely, her beloved feline friend, Sica was grateful for one thing: her life.
“Thank God I woke up,” she said.
It was a sentiment shared by other tenants of the low-income 16-unit apartment complex in the 100 block of West Hill Street in downtown Monroe. Damage to the building is estimated at $450,000.
Six people stayed in an emergency American Red Cross shelter Sunday night. The relief organization’s Snohomish County chapter has helped 28 people from the building with emergency needs, spokeswoman Jeanne Hanson said.
“Everybody who needed assistance is getting it,” she said.
Police searched for a cause Monday.
Some tenants wondered if the fire was set intentionally, but the investigation has turned up no such evidence.
“We have found nothing so far that would indicate arson,” Monroe Police Department spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.
The structure was built in 1903 and has been remodeled several times, Willis said.
Ron “Hoss” Tehan, 47, walked past his apartment complex carrying grocery bags of milk and Triscuits on Monday morning. He was accompanied by his Lab, Sugar, and roommate Dylan Windham, 18.
Tehan said he rescued a neighbor’s dog from her apartment before fleeing.
“I was thinking I found him just in time,” he said.
Windham, 18, an Everett Community College student, grabbed his backpack full of textbooks before abandoning the apartment unit.
“I was just happy everyone got out alive,” he said.
Sharon Hall, 58, considered herself fortunate. She lived in a separate unit connected to the main building that was not damaged by fire.
As the fire spread, she fled in her pajamas and robe with Gunner, her chihuahua-pug mix under an arm.
On Monday morning, police opened up the temporary cyclone barrier so she could haul out heavy-duty plastic bags of her belongings.
“I was lucky,” she said. “Everything I own was in that apartment. It would have been disastrous.”
Jeff Harper, an owner of the Thrive Community Fitness center next door, was thankful the flames didn’t reach his business.
“It’s awful close to home,” he said. “It’s a real miracle. Kudos to the fire department.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org