BRINNON — Residents in Brinnon mourning the loss of a family of five who died in a cabin fire over the weekend are preparing to hold a vigil Thursday evening and have placed flowers, stuffed animals and balloons at a memorial at the Olympic Canal Tracts.
Officials have identified the victims as Monroe residents Jenny L. Drake and Jerry A. Drake, both 42, and their three children, ages 11, 8 and 2. Neighbors and officials said the family had frequently used the 250-square-foot cabin it owned in the 600 block of Salmon Street as a weekend getaway.
The cause of the explosion and fire reported at about 1 a.m. Sunday has not yet been determined. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating. Jefferson County Undersheriff Art Frank have said that it may take weeks to determine the cause.
Joe Searight, Jr., who is an Olympic Canal Tracts board member, said he didn’t know the Drake family, but he felt the need to start a memorial for the family at the OCT Memorial Garden located between the office and the well tower.
Searight is preparing to host an informal vigil for the Drake family, saying their deaths has hit community members hard. He will set his fire pit by the memorial at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We had to do something,” he said. “They were part of our Olympic Canal Tracts.”
Michael Haas, Jefferson County prosecuting attorney and coroner, said autopsies performed at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday show no signs of foul play. He said the family died of smoke inhalation.
“It’s a very sad case,” he said.
Olympic Canal Tracts is a heavily-wooded subdivision in Brinnon that sits along the Duckabush River. It has a private beach for residents, a clubhouse, and two playgrounds.
Neighbors on Monday described the neighborhood as a place were people can go and “just be a family.”
The family of the victims issued a statement thanking Brinnon residents for allowing the Drakes to be a part of their community and asked for privacy as they grieve.
The family of the victims provided the following statement:
“Thank you for letting our family be a part of the Brinnon community. We are still an active part of you, even after our loss. We respectfully request that everyone allows us privacy as we work through what is understandably a huge blow to our family.
“The Drakes were an amazing group of individuals that made up a loving and close family. They enjoyed fishing, monster trucks, playing Pokémon Go and getaways at the cabin. Unfathomably, early Sunday a fire took Jerry, Jenny, and their boys. From all reports they went to sleep peacefully and never woke up. They are survived by their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They will be in our hearts and minds forever. We are truly lucky to have them in our family.
“We would like to reiterate that the Drake family were in their cabin, on property co-owned by extended family. There was nothing nefarious. This was the very definition of a tragedy. Our loss is indescribable. We appreciate the community we are a part of, and understand your sense of shared grief.
“We have set up an account at BECU, the Jerry Drake benevolent account, to go towards the memorial and funeral costs for Jerry, Jenny, Braeden, Zachary, and Dylan, in lieu of flowers or meals, if you would like to assist.
“We would like to give accolades to the fire departments, the sheriff’s department, and the neighbors who helped us in so many ways through this. Their response and professionalism is so very much appreciated. They are still working on the official reports and so we have no further information to give.
“We ask that you all hug your loved ones close and take that moment to listen to the small ones, because you never know when you won’t have the opportunity.”
“The Drakes were an amazing group of individuals that made up a loving and close family,” the statement said. “They enjoyed fishing, monster trucks, playing Pokémon Go and getaways at the cabin.”
The Drakes are survived by their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
“They will be in our hearts and minds forever,” the statement said. “We are truly lucky to have them in our family.”
That vigil will be at the same time and day as a vigil in Monroe for the family. Cascade Community Church is hosting a vigil at 7 p.m. in Monroe in their honor as the congregation grieves and prays for the Drakes.
“We’ve known what it is to lose a loved one — and it breaks our hearts. But to lose an entire family is devastating,” The Rev. Nate Hettinga wrote in a Facebook post. “We have questions, anger, and tears. The Drake family is gone from us, but they’re together and Home.”
Hettinga said Wednesday the family has gone to the church for several years and was well loved. He described the three boys as “rambunctious, active and incredibly bright.”
Children at the boys’ elementary school in Monroe were told Tuesday, he said.
The vigil Thursday will be largely unstructured, he said. It’s a chance for people to gather for an hour and honor the Drakes.
He said people will hold candles, cards will be available for people to write notes to surviving family member and a wall in the worship center will be covered in paper for people to write their prayers.
The church will provide a list of scriptures related to comfort and grief and will provide resources with how to help kids handle their grief.
“We face lots of death … but this is the first time we’ve lost an entire family,” he said. “It leaves everyone with a sense of ‘what do we do?’”
Hettinga said the family had been significantly changed by God in recent years and that they lived out their faith.
“We we come back to is that they are together and they are at home in heaven together,” he said. “This is devastating and it’s heartbreaking and we’re trying to figure out how to tell our kids. We’re having to think through and say we’re going to pray, but if something happens, we’ll be OK.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].