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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Families lose homes and memories to Ford-Corkscrew fire

Aug. 19, 2021 Updated Thu., Aug. 19, 2021 at 9:28 a.m.

Jordan and Stacey Pyeatt thought it would take an act of God for a wildfire to destroy their family home.

Both former firefighters, the couple spent four years renovating their log cabin along Rail Canyon Road north of Tumtum with wildfire safety as top priority. They used fire-resistant wood to build the cabin, cut down trees close to their house and even bought sheep to eat foliage around the property.

But despite everything, the couple ended up in the same position as so many other families forever changed by wildfires: holding each other outside a burnt husk of their home and wondering why it had to happen to them.

“I guess God acted on us this time,” Jordan Pyeatt said.

The couple’s cabin was just one of several homes leveled in the Ford-Corkscrew fire, which is now 14,000 acres and 0% contained. Since the fire began Sunday, 18 residences have been destroyed.

Stacey Pyeatt said she didn’t think it would make sense to try to explain what happened to her daughters, 1 and 5.

“They’ve asked for things and we’re like, ‘remember that fire?’ ” Stacey Pyeatt said. “They just want to go home.”

The family saw the fire over a ridge Sunday afternoon. Ten minutes later, a sheriff’s deputy came to tell them to evacuate.

The family stayed clear of the area until a neighbor told them Monday night their house was going up . The couple immediately went back to see if they could stop the fire from reaching their cabin, but they arrived right when the roof caved in.

Because of how quickly they had to get out, they weren’t able to grab anything from the house. Jordan Pyeatt’s father’s ashes were in the home.

Donation pages scattered across the internet tell the story of other families who lost years of memories to the wildfire in the span of an hour.

“All of the pictures of my mom and grandma were in the house,” Melodie Hall, a resident who also lost her family home to the fire, said. “I’ll miss looking at them the most.”

Her mom and grandma both passed away before the fire.

Along with the sentimental value, losing everything in a flash takes an obvious but extreme financial toll.

Shannon Oakes, whose aging parents live along Rail Canyon Road north of Tumtum, said her family could barely afford the essentials before their property was leveled by fire.

“They saved up a long time just to get a new fridge,” Oakes said. “Losing everything is just unimaginable.”

Oakes’s parents, both in their 70s, will struggle to even clear their property of debris due to persistent medical problems.

All of the families mentioned did not have fire or home insurance.

“With how dry it’s been, I don’t think anyone would have insured us,” Jordan Pyeatt said.

For Pyeatt and his wife, many of the circumstance of the fire just don’t make sense.

Many trees not too far away from the cabin went unscathed, and a pile of junk in the driveway they were planning on selling didn’t burn at all. Even a rope swing tied to a tree somehow wasn’t affected by the fire.

For whatever reason, it seemed that the only things that were destroyed were the possessions the family really valued.

Except for one.

Outside the house, a tiny sapling stood Wednesday surrounded by small bricks. It was planted in memory of one of the couple’s children who passed away not too long ago. In a field of blackness and destruction, it still stands, green and full of life.

A donation page for the Pyeatt family can be found at bit.ly/3y0ljFR. Hall’s family also has a donation page at bit.ly/3stZOvK, and Oakes’s family has a donation page at bit.ly/3k5Tx5H.

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