Fires Friday and Saturday destroyed two Pendleton homes.
“It took everything,” Alicia Reynen said. “It took our two dogs, and my cat and all the presents my kids got for Christmas.”
She said her husband, Jesse Reynen, was playing video games early Friday when he spotted flames on the front porch of their 1970 model trailer home at Shadeview Mobile Home Park, 1437 S.W. 37th St. She called 911 at 1:14 a.m.
“He tried to find a way to put it out,” she said, “and I ran after my kids because they were in two different rooms.”
Alicia, Jesse and their three children, Dean, 4, Breelynn, 6, and Athena, 8, escaped unharmed. Assistant fire chief Shawn Penninger said crews rolled up at 1:17 a.m. and found the heavy fire engulfing the trailer home and threatening to spread to more homes.
“They concentrated their effort on saving the adjacent trailer,” he said.
The fire caused some minor exterior damage to the next-door home, Penninger said, but there was no hope of saving the Reynen’s home. The fire also totaled their 2017 Jeep Renegade in the driveway.
Penninger said the cause appears to be hot coals from a wood stove. The coals were in a bucket on the wood deck, and something, perhaps the wind, knocked over the bucket, spilling the coals. He said he and the state fire marshal concluded the blaze was an unfortunate accident.
The Reynen family for the time being is staying with friends at Shadeview and relying on donations.
“We have an awesome community,” she said. “All three kids have new clothes and shoes.”
But the home was too old to carry insurance, she said, and they need to replace what they lost. Jesse Reynen explained in a post on Facebook they might eventually place a new trailer home in the space or rent elsewhere in town, but they will need household items when the time comes.
The children go to school, Alicia and Jesse work, and he also is attending Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton. Alicia Reynen said she is placing donation jars in Pendleton businesses, the Bank of the West opened a donation account for them and there is an online donation page at gofundme.com, which has a goal of $20,000.
Penninger said the second fire occurred Saturday around 3:30 a.m. at 1908 S.W. Goodwin Ave., where crews saw smoke billowing from a home and found fire raging within.
“It was a defensive operations for the initial 10 to 15 minutes before crews could get inside,” he said.
That home also is a total loss, Penninger said, and earlier in the day was the scene of a stabbing. However, he said, the fire investigation revealed nothing suspicious, “just a bad set of circumstances that were coincidental.”
Pendleton police Chief Stuart Roberts said officers Friday just after 4 p.m. responded to the home on a report of an assault. He said the place is a local flop house for transients and the like, and a 20-year-old woman staying there accused a fellow transient, Dominic Michael Silva, 25, of stabbing her in the lower leg.
Roberts said she suffered a small wound that was non-life threatening. He said the victim claimed she was sleeping on a bed when Silva told her to make room for him or he would stab her. She did not move, Roberts said, and, according to her story, Silva pulled out a small knife and stabbed her.
Silva took off, but police caught him Saturday at about 1:30 in a room at the Knights Inn, 310 S.E. Dorion Ave., and booked him into the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, for second-degree assault and warrants for failure to appear. Roberts said Silva had a folding knife with a 4.5-inch-long blade, and police are submitting that for forensic testing. Roberts also said in spite of rumors flying about social media, nothing connects Silva to the house fire.
“There are so many people coming and going from this place at any given point in time,” Roberts said, “it would be difficult to put anything together.”