Sultan Boys & Girls Club burns

SULTAN — Fire tore through the Sultan Boys &Girls Club early Friday morning, gutting a two-story building and a smaller day care building next door.

Flames were shooting from the buildings when the first police and fire units arrived just after 1:30 a.m. Firefighters worked hard to prevent the blaze from spreading to other structures nearby.

“Both buildings are a total loss,” Sultan Police Chief Jeff Brand said. “The roof on both buildings did fall in.”

Despite the damage at 705 First St., the community quickly pulled together to make sure the club would continue serving Sultan’s children without interruption. Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick was awakened early, not long after crews arrived to battle the flames. Later that morning, she was on the phone with local leaders from the Volunteers of America and the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

“They’ve been an outstanding service and resource for our community,” she said.

Within hours, Volunteers of America offered up space at its Sky Valley Family and Community Resource Center, about a half block from the site of the fire.

“It all worked out well, at least temporarily,” Eslick said.

That came as welcome news to Mark Van Valkenburg, a Sultan father who appreciates the arts and crafts, games and computers available for his children. His 10-year-old son, Grant, and 8-year-old daughter, Ginger, have been going to the club for about five years.

“They really watch over the kids,” he said. “They have good people.”

Both of the damaged buildings belong to the city of Sultan. The destroyed day-care building used to serve as the City Council chambers. The Sky Valley Food Bank, located to the south of the Boys &Girls Club, suffered no damage.

The Sultan Boys &Girls Club is one of the 14 local operations run by the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. The two-story former state Department of Natural Resources building had been its home since 1990. The club more recently started using the daycare building next door to the north.

The Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County eventually hope to rebuild in Sultan, executive director Bill Tsoukalas said. They aren’t yet certain whether they will try to do that at the same spot. They plan to meet with the mayor and others next week to discuss long-term plans.

For now, they’re pleased with the quick fix to minimize the impact to children and families. Up to 100 children in the Sultan area use their services daily, Tsoukalas said.

“Everything that was there before will be open on Monday,” he said. “It may be in a different buildings, but it’s the same people.”

He thanked Eslick as well as Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, who called to offer help.

The initial fire investigation, including a review of surveillance cameras, showed nothing obviously suspicious about the fire’s cause, said Brand, the city police chief. Unstable roofs, walls and other parts of the damaged buildings prevented investigators from entering.

Crews from Snohomish County Fire District 5 responded, with help from districts 3 and 26. They stayed at the scene until 5:30 a.m., Fire District 5 Lt. Ron Bertholf said.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To offer help, call Sultan City Hall at 360-793-2231 or the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County at 425-258-2436. The Boys &Girls Clubs accepts donations on at www.bgcsc.org.

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