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Arlington community rallies behind family devastated by fire

A fire engulfs a house on 19th Dr. NE at 11 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21 when two boys, 11 and 12, died in the blaze. A memorial service was held Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Arlington Free Methodist Church, 730 E. Highland Dr. in Arlington with Pastor Verlin Elmore officiating. A benefit dinner is planned from 5 - 7 p.m. at Presidents Elementary School, Dec. 3. - Courtesy photo
A fire engulfs a house on 19th Dr. NE at 11 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21 when two boys, 11 and 12, died in the blaze. A memorial service was held Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Arlington Free Methodist Church, 730 E. Highland Dr. in Arlington with Pastor Verlin Elmore officiating. A benefit dinner is planned from 5 - 7 p.m. at Presidents Elementary School, Dec. 3.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

UPDATE — When this story was originally posted, we incorrectly reported that the funeral for both boys was on Dec. 3. The funeral for Tyler Emory was Dec. 3 while the funeral for Kyler Opstrup-Williams is scheduled for Dec. 5, at the Loyal Heights Community Hall.

ARLINGTON — The community of Arlington has launched a campaign to help the family who lost two foster children and their house in a fire Nov. 21.

A funeral service for 10-year-old Tyler J. Emory was held Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Arlington Free Methodist Church, 730 E. Highland Dr. in Arlington with Pastor Verlin Elmore officiating. The funeral for Kyler Opstrup-Williams is scheduled for Dec. 5, at the Loyal Heights Community Hall.

The boys died in a fire that started at 10:54 p.m. and quickly grew out of control in the 22800 block of 19th Drive NE north of Arlington.

By the time firefighters reached the house, six minutes after the call, the blaze was already too hot for firefighters to enter, said the Public Information Officer of North County Fire District, Christian Davis.

More than 50 firefighters, five engines, four tenders, one ladder truck, one medic unit, two aid units, three command units and two support units responded from North County Fire/EMS, Arlington Fire Department, the city of Stanwood’s fire department, Snohomish County Fire District 21 (Arlington Heights), Snohomish County Fire District 19 (Silvana) and Marysville Fire District all arrived to help fight the fire.

The owners of the house, Mark and Susan Lee, care for special needs foster children and moved to this house in the country a year ago to expand their ability to care for these children.

They held a press conference Tuesday, Nov. 25, to thank the community for its support.

“We are devastated by the loss of our two boys,” Mark and Susan Lee read in a statement. “We appreciate the love and support of the community. They have wrapped their affection around our family and we are so grateful.”

In its continuing support, a fund-raising spaghetti dinner will be held 5 - 7 p.m., Dec. 3, at Presidents Elementary School, 505 E. Third St., in Arlington, to help the family recover from the devastating fire. The dinner is made possible by generous donations from the Food Pavilion and other grocery stores, according to Arlington School District public information officer Misti Gilman. The district is providing the sauce at cost, she said. Food Pavilion is providing all the bread and pasta and Safeway and Haggen each donated $25 toward expenses. Along with attending the dinner, the community is also able to make donations to the Mark Lee Family Fund at Bank of America.

Tickets are $7 available at the door, at the community relations office of Cascade Valley Hospital (360-618-7849), at Bryant Fire Department (360-435-9252), and at Flowers by George (360-435-5789).

Ostrup-Williams was a student at Post Middle School in the Arlington School District and Emory had just recently re-enrolled after attending Quil Ceda Elementary School in the Marysville School District in recent months.

Both districts immediately provided extra counselors to provide support to the children who knew the victims.

The Arlington School District superintendent, Dr. Kristine McDuffy, extended her sympathy to the family.

“We were shocked and saddened to learn of this tragic event. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family. We will join the community in rallying to assist them in any way we can during this extremely difficult time,” McDuffy said.

Eight survivors, four adults and four children, were transported to the local hospital for minor burns and smoke inhalation. The family is known to be active with the Church of Latter-day Saints and the church mobilized quickly in support the family.

The Snohomish County Fire Marshals Office investigated the fire and estimated cost of damages to be around $525,000. The fire is believed to have been started by faulty electrical wiring, according to investigator Gary Bontrager with the Fire Marshals Office.

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