The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Diana Zimmerman
Wah. Co. Eagle 

Puget Island family scramble to escape fire


It was a few minutes before one in the morning on Thursday, July 24, when Darcy Tischer awoke to a smoke alert sounding its alarm. A light sleeper, she sprinted to her boyfriend’s side. Tayler Stornetta was in a deep sleep and hadn’t heard a thing.

Their small house on Puget Island was on fire and filling up fast with smoke.

They moved quickly to get their niece, Mari, five, and their two kids, Louis, almost two and Leanndra, nine, out of the house. The little ones weren’t fully awake when they were pushed out of the window of the one level home. Leanndra was in a deep sleep and Darcy was having a hard time waking her. At the age of nine, Leanndra had gotten bigger, and Darcy struggled to get her confused child, heavy with sleep, out the window.

Tayler was right behind her with the family dog. Then, consumed by smoke, the two managed to pull themselves through the window.

“I was clawing at the window,” Darcy said. “I couldn’t breathe at all. Tayler was in worse shape than I was and he was covered in soot.”

“It took two minutes,” she said, and then the house was fully engulfed.”

Scott Kehrli, Puget Island fire chief and Darcy’s uncle, was with his department when they and the Cathlamet Fire Department, the Skamokawa Fire Department and the District 4 Fire Department responded to the home.

“They were really lucky,” Kehrli said. “They got out with what they had on their backs.”

The kids were okay, but the two adults needed breathing treatments.

According to Kehrli, a fire investigator determined that the fire was electrical and had started in the entertainment center. A couch nearby had caught fire and it quickly filled the home with smoke.

“It’s really hard,” Darcy said on Tuesday. “But we’re holding up. The house is a total loss. Nothing in the house was salvageable. We’ve lost everything.”

“It was our big investment.”

The family is currently staying with Darcy’s parents, Lee and Diane Tischer.

Tayler, a logger, is the main source of income for the family and has had to return to work.

The stress of the event has taken its toll. Darcy is having a hard time sleeping and is constantly on full alert. Because the fire was electrical, she has found herself unplugging things at her parent’s home.

Still, she’s grateful.

“God kept me alive to raise those kids,” Darcy said. “And Tayler and I want people to know how grateful we are. We don’t know what we would do without everyone. It’s been amazing to see how so many people have pulled together to help us. So many people have shown up to bring comfort and just be there. We are so lucky to live where we live.”

If you would like to help, a Fire Fund for the Tischer-Stornetta family has been set up at the Bank of the Pacific.


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