By KARL SCHWEIZER
SULTAN – CW Fortier’s eyes teared up as he sagged into a lawn chair next door to his burned-out house Friday afternoon.
"That’s our life in there. We’ve raised our kids there since 1969," the retired shipping supervisor said of the house he watched burn to the ground.
Fortier narrowly escaped the flames that devoured his two-story, five-bedroom home in the 100 block of 10th Street about 10 a.m. Several dogs died.
Fortier said he was cooking spaghetti in his kitchen when he smelled a burning odor. He first checked his stove, then looked around a corner to see flames in the home’s solarium. He tried to douse the fire with a blanket, then called 911 before rushing outside to turn off the home’s propane tank.
Fortier’s wife and their grandson were out on errands when the fire started, but they returned as firefighters from Sultan, Gold Bar and Monroe battled the blaze.
"Sixteen years of memories are gone," said Chad Jefferson, the grandson who has lived with his grandparents for most of his 16 years.
"I just went to pieces," Nellie Fortier said.
The Fortiers and Jefferson sat or stood in a neighbor’s front yard Friday afternoon, taking shade under a thick, 100-year-old tree just slightly older than their destroyed home, originally a section house for Great Northern Railroad.
The home had been in the family since 1904. The Fortiers acquired it from an uncle in 1969, CW Fortier said. The couple raised two of their three daughters there, and had remodeled the house several times, adding two bedrooms and a hot tub and finishing the basement.
Nellie Fortier said the couple raised and bred dogs, and had more than two dozen adult dogs and puppies. Most were in either a nursery attached to the house or in an adjoining garage, but four stayed in the family’s living quarters. Those four were likely dead, she said.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at 10:16 a.m. and got it out by about noon, said Sultan firefighter Rolf Johansen. The home, which was insured, was a total loss, he said, and the cause is yet to be determined.
Fortier said he believes he had help escaping the blaze.
"The good Lord was watching out for me," he said.
You can call Herald Writer Karl Schweizer at 425-339-3452or send e-mail
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