Family describes struggles after deadly fire

SEQUIM — Jeffrey Bellis and his wife, Heather Cary, are struggling on several fronts.

They lost their 2-year-old son, Evan Daniel Bellis, last Friday in a fast-moving fire that destroyed their mobile home on Blue Ice Terrace in Diamond Point.

This week, they are dealing with funeral arrangements through Sequim Valley Funeral Chapel and trying to find temporary housing through Olympic Community Action Programs, or OlyCAP.

A “Diamond Point fire fund” account has been set up at all branches of First Federal, and donations are being accepted at any branch to benefit the family.

At this point, Bellis said Thursday, “anything will help.”

“I don’t think I’m going to recover from the loss of my son,” said Bellis, who declined to have his family photographed for this story.

“I tried a couple of times to go in and get him, and that’s why I got the burns.”

He and his wife managed to flee the home after the 11 a.m. fire with their 4-year-old son Jaden, who was unhurt along with his mother.

Original reports said five people were in the home, but it is unclear now whether the grandmother, who lives next door, was in the home at the time or came over during the fire.

“It’s terrible,” said Bellis, who suffered burns over 20 percent of his body, including on his back, arms and knees.

He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he originally was listed in critical condition.

After four days of treatment, he returned Tuesday.

“I’m just recovering from my burns,” he said.

Bellis and Cary also lost their transportation, a minivan parked near the home, which burned in the fire.

They lost all their clothing and household needs and have been living in crowded conditions in a neighboring mobile home owned by Cary’s mother.

“We lost everything,” Bellis said. “We have to pay for the funeral and stuff like that.”

Bellis said a smoke alarm sounded in the home where the wood stove was located.

“I opened the door because I heard the fire alarm going off, and there was just flames everywhere,” he recalled, adding that he believes the wood stove was what caused the blaze.

“I don’t know how exactly” it happened, he said.

He said he woke up his wife, and they frantically looked for the 2-year-old.

“We were pretty sure the baby was in the room when we moved out of there,” Bellis said.

“He apparently went and hid in the closet in our bedroom.”

That’s where he said they lost track of the 2-year-old.

“My first instinct was to find him and get out of the house,” Bellis said, adding that he tried to go back to retrieve Evan twice but could not find him.

Bellis said he has to return to Harborview once a week until his burns are healed.

His next appointment is Tuesday, he said.

Don Zanon, emergency services specialist for the Olympic Peninsula chapter of the American Red Cross, said the agency gave the family emotional support and immediate needs.

“We provided them with clothes right away, because they had no clothing, and some food,” said Zanon, who was one of three Red Cross representatives who responded to the fire scene shortly after it happened.

The local Red Cross chapter also linked the family with organizations that can help them, including OlyCAP for temporary housing.

“The conditions are crowded, and they need some temporary housing,” Zanon said, adding that the family is working with OlyCAP’s Housing Resource Center.

Zanon said the family must relocate soon.

“Every time she goes in and out of the house, you know what she sees: She sees that burned-up building,” he said of Cary.

One option is to find a new mobile home to replace the burned one.

“The biggest need for this family is finances,” Zanon said.

“They have medical costs, a funeral and housing expenses.”


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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