The Drake family poses with Santa in 2017. From left: Jenny, Dylan, Braeden, Zachary and Jerry (Family photo via Peninsula Daily News)

The Drake family poses with Santa in 2017. From left: Jenny, Dylan, Braeden, Zachary and Jerry (Family photo via Peninsula Daily News)

Vigils planned for Monroe family killed in cabin explosion

One will be in Monroe, where the Drakes lived. The other event will be on Hood Canal, where they died.

By Jesse Major / Peninsula Daily News

BRINNON, Jefferson County — Residents in Snohomish and Jefferson counties planned events Thursday evening to mourn the loss of a Monroe family of five who died in an explosion and cabin fire over the weekend.

Jenny L. Drake and Jerry A. Drake, both 42, and their three boys, ages 11, 8 and 2, frequently used the 250-square-foot cabin as a weekend getaway, said neighbors, who have placed flowers, stuffed animals and balloons at a makeshift memorial in this wooded community on the west side of Hood Canal.

The vigil here will coincide with one in Monroe at Cascade Community Church at 7 p.m. The Rev. Nate Hettinga wrote in a Facebook post: “We’ve known what it is to lose a loved one — and it breaks our hearts. But to lose an entire family is devastating. We have questions, anger and tears. The Drake family is gone from us, but they’re together and home.”

The cause of the explosion and fire, reported at about 1 a.m. Sunday, has not been determined. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating. Jefferson County Undersheriff Art Frank has said that it might take weeks to determine the cause. Michael Haas, Jefferson County prosecuting attorney and coroner, said autopsies performed by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday found the family died of smoke inhalation.

Joe Searight, a board member for the Olympic Canal Tracts neighborhood, didn’t know the Drake family but was preparing to host the informal vigil in Brinnon. “We had to do something,” he said. “They were part of our Olympic Canal Tracts.”

The family of the victims issued a statement thanking Brinnon residents for allowing the Drakes to be a part of their community and asked for privacy as they grieve.

“The Drakes were an amazing group of individuals that made up a loving and close family,” the statement said. “They enjoyed fishing, monster trucks, playing Pokémon Go and getaways at the cabin.”

“They will be in our hearts and minds forever,” the statement said. “We are truly lucky to have them in our family.” A fundraiser has been established at BECU — the Jerry Drake Benevolent Account — to cover the costs of a memorial and funeral.

Hettinga, the Monroe church pastor, said the family had attended the church for several years and was well-loved. He described the three boys as “rambunctious, active and incredibly bright.”

Children at the boys’ elementary school in Monroe were told Tuesday, he said.

This story originally appeared in the Peninsula Daily News, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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