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Tue, Feb. 18

Parks family of six loses home to fire<br>

A lone chimney stands among the ruins left from a Jan. 6 fire that completely destroyed the Olsen’s home in Parks.

The mother, Katherine Olsen, 15-year-old Mathew, 13-year-old Jonathan, 12-year-old Steven, and six-year-old Sara were awakened by Bert Page who noticed the unusual bright light as he was leaving for work.

“If it wasn’t for Bert, we would have all died”, said Katherine.

Her husband, Roger Olsen, was away on business.

The PBFD did not get the call until 4:15a.m. and two volunteers, Starr Lanphere and Ray Raetzel were on the scene by 4:30 a.m.

“We were in Engine 1 with 1,000 gallons of water which was gone in 30-45 seconds,” said Lanphere. “Within 30 minutes, there was absolutely nothing left of the house except the chimney and fireplace,” he added.

A total of 20,000 gallons of water was used to completely extinguish the blazes of the house and two vehicles.

In addition to the horror of the fire, neighbors and other firefighters were alarmed by the sound of ammunition in the house exploding in the fire.

A total of 21 firefighters from three districts – Sherwood Forest and Williams came to help those of Parks-Bellemont – were present in the very cold morning hours. Extremely slippery snow-covered roads added to the dangers.

Lanphere, who is also chairman of the PBFD board said, “I cannot thank Sherwood Forest and Williams firefighters enough.”

He also expressed “enormous thanks to Larry Wright who hauled and donated water from Flagstaff, Lonnie McCleve who donated water from Bellemont, and again to Wright who hauled it to the storage tank in Parks. Also to Bill Ulery and Dave Gallinger of Parks, who stood by with their own water trucks.”

A total of 20,000 gallons was donated to replace that amount which came from the storage tank at the Parks Fire Station

“Please, please everyone, call 911 first,” Lanphere said. “Don’t try to put a fire out yourself with a water hose.”

Before calling 91l, the Olsens and neighbors tried to extinguish the fire, which probably started in an outside electric box, officials said.

Since the fire, area residents have pulled together clothes and other supplies for the Olsen family.

Katherine Olsen called the generosity “overwhelming.”

She said she is “touched beyond words at the depth of caring of so many people who immediately came to help us. We have never felt alone thanks to their support.”

The Olsen family immediately moved in with the Sargent family in Parks – friends and neighbors for 15 years.

They plan to rebuild as soon as possible in Parks. In the meantime however, the family of six will move into a small home made available for them to rent.

Katherine Olsen said it is impossible to thank all the individuals for their immediate donations of clothing, food and financial aid.

She was able to list some of the businesses however, which made substantial donations:“First of all the Parks Feed & Mercantile which has gone well above and beyond with being the collection and communication point. Next the Parks General Store and Deli with food. Then, in Williams, DeBerge Western Wear; in Flagstaff – Sears, J.C.Penney, Payless Shoes, Savers, Sam’s Club."

The Olsens are also very grateful to the Jehovah’s Witness congregation of Williams for its “behind-the-scenes help with legal things and stockpiling what we will need in the future,” Katherine said.

At this time, the family has plenty of donated clothing. Food and financial support are very much needed.

Call the Mercantile at 635-1310 for information on helping the Olsen family.

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