Fundraising campaign launched to help McLeod family after fire


January 25, 2023

Linda Rumbolt

BURNING QUESTIONS – Authorities are probing the cause of a fire last Tuesday that leveled the house that Tyrone McLeod was building off Indian Road. Neither he nor his children were at the structure when the blaze started. A fundraising effort has begun to help recoup the family's losses.

A La Conner man's lifelong dream and five years of his hard work quickly went up in smoke last week.

Tyrone McLeod lost to fire on Tuesday, Jan. 17 the house he had been building on family property off Indian Road. McLeod is perhaps best known for having built the elaborate rampway at the former Dorsten residence on Morris Street west of the Firehall Kitchen and Taphouse,

"They weren't moved in yet, everyone is okay," McLeod's mother, retired La Conner Schools staff member Linda Rumbolt, told the Weekly News Wednesday morning, "but Tyrone lost all his tools and equipment. He had just finished the house and was ready to paint it."

Cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Skagit County Fire District 13 and Swinomish Tribal Police personnel.

A friend of McLeod's, Kelly Jensen, has begun a fundraising campaign to help the family recoup its losses.

"Tyrone started building the home by himself five years ago with his own funds," Jensen posted on social media. "It was his dream to have a home for his two children and the dream is gone.

"The home was built by hand and uninsured," said Jensen. "Now the family is without a place to live."

Jensen described the fire as "devastating." The 2,100 square foot structure burned completely to the ground.

McLeod works for a roofing company, which had helped him with the roof on his dream house.

"He had built it mostly himself," Rumbolt said. "He hired independent contractors for electrical and drywall work, though. He paid as he went. He was so excited as he had just paid the few thousand dollars left to the drywaller. They were ready to paint and move in."

McLeod had stored his tools inside the house since he was going to be out of town, said Rumbolt.

District 13 Fire Chief Wood Weiss said the blaze was initially toned out as a brush fire on nearby Reservation Road. After receiving a corrected location, Weiss and district firefighters drove to Indian Road, where they saw fire deep in the woods. The call came at 7:46 a.m.

"We proceeded down a 600-foot driveway where I saw a fully engulfed structure fire with 15-to 20-foot flames and a leveled structure which was down to the foundation," said Weiss.

Weiss said District 13 was assisted by the Anacortes Fire Department. Together, they had the flames under control in about 15 minutes, an effort that required more than 11,000 gallons of water.

Swinomish Tribal Police was also on scene.

"It's a pending investigation at the moment so I can't say anything," said officer Char Burks. "We're so thankful no one was home and everyone is safe. It's scary stuff."

Scary and overwhelming.

"It's about more than a house burning down," Rumbolt said. "They need help. He has to get his electrical hooked up again to the trailer he was living in while building the house. That will take a while – and money."

Two nearby residents have said they were awakened by a loud gunshot at 4:30 the morning of the fire. That is likely one aspect of the investigation as Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is said to be engaged in the probe.

One person reported seeing a car driving through the woods prior to the fire starting, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Because the fire was well off the road, its aftermath has somewhat escaped notice, Rumbolt said.

"Everyone knows Tyrone," she said, "but no one knows about the fire."

Unfortunately for the McLeods, they know about it all too well.


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