Fire sparks flood of giving for Quilcene artist

QUILCENE — On Sunday afternoon, Anne St. Aubin got in her truck and drove down the road to feed the cows and dog at her neighbor’s place while he is in the hospital.

When she returned, she saw smoke floating towards the trees behind her house and knew her worst fear was realized — her home, a wood cabin that doubles as an art studio, was on fire.

Three days later, St. Aubin sat on the couch at her neighbor’s house and counted her blessings.

“It’s a miracle,” she said.

“It’s amazing that the cabin is still standing.”

St. Aubin is an artist known for portraits of Quilcene residents and paintings that reflect her connection to spiritual forces that have lifted her out of a life of addiction and abuse.

Now she is again witnessing the power of love in action.

“The phone rang all day yesterday,” St. Aubin said.

“It’s such an outpouring of concern.”

Neighbors helping out

St. Aubin is staying with her neighbors, Stephanie and Chuck Batchelder, who are also offering shelter to her livestock and a bed for one of her cats injured in the fire.

Another neighbor down the road has offered to help her clean up the debris.

But when word of the fire spread through the community via the Internet, offers of help started coming in from people St. Aubin doesn’t know.

“We had so many calls, I had to start a book for messages,” Stephanie Batchelder said.

One woman called and recommended a place to get clothing, and learning that St. Aubin couldn’t leave the house, found out her sizes and went and got them for her.

Another woman drove to Batchelder’s home near Quilcene to drop off a Swain’s gift certificate.

“We just have her first name,” Stephanie said.

“She drove up and down the road looking for the house.”

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