(Update: Adding video, interview with resident)
Couple remains optimistic, despite losing everything in early-morning blaze
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. (KTVZ) – Moving forward. It's a motto that a Crooked River Ranch family has adopted as they look ahead to see what's next, after a fire destroyed their log home early Monday morning.
Ryan Littlefield and Robin Whitaker live on Southwest Lords Place, in a log cabin that they inherited. The home was originally built by Littlefield's grandfather in 1986.
Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue responded shortly after 2 a.m. to the fire alarm, Assistant Fire Chief Sean Hartley said. Crews arrived to find the two-story log home engulfed, with flames spreading to a neighboring fence. The home was considered a total loss, with an estimated value of the structure of about $207,000, not including contents.
The couple moved into the house only three weeks ago, and Whitaker was the only one home when the house went up in flames.
And it was their dog, Boo, who woke her up in time to get out.
"I would have never woke up in time. I know that for sure, I've thought about it a million times, and if she wouldn't have been so persistent -- there's no way," Whitaker told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "I swear, it was like teamwork. She is the only reason why I woke up."
The family has three dogs. Not only did Boo wake Whitaker up, but guided her, alongside the other two dogs one in front, two in the back -- until she safely made it out the back door, amid thick smoke that made it impossible to see, Whitaker recalled.
Fire investigators were unable to determine the cause, but said started outside of the house. Mutual aid assistance was provided by Redmond Fire & Rescue, the Cloverdale Rural Fire District and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Car keys, electronics, pictures, and the urns of Ryan's grandparents and father were all lost in the fire. While their dogs were okay, the family lost their two cats -- each of which recently had a litter of kittens.
Surrounding neighbors all have gated driveways. On top of that, Whitaker's phone was lost in the fire. She says she had to scream for help in the street until a neighbor heard and called 911.
Fortunately, their four children were away for the night.
Despite the lost home, Whitaker says they are very thankful for the ways the community has already stepped up to help them out. (A friend also has started a GoFundMe page for the family.)
"We've only lived here for a month, and it just seems everywhere we go someone is you know -- reaching out, so we're super-grateful," Whitaker said.
Both Whitaker and Littlefield were as optimistic as one can be, after losing everything (they say they didn't have the home insured yet, as the title was in the process of being transferred).
So the couple say they're treating this setback as a reset button for their lives. They say they don't know what is next for them, but that moving forward is their only option.
"We both know that everything happens for a reason, and when bad things happen, it's just moving things out that weren't meant to be there -- and bringing in better things, bigger things." Whitaker said.