Photos by Steve Shay
"Up from the Ashes” fundraiser for North Highline Tra-Lee Apt. fire raises over $6,500 at Bison Creek Pizza in Burien. Top, L-R adults are Charlotte Skeffington of New Futures, & fire victim Gaby Reyes. Kids, L-R are twins Maximo & Nathali, and their friend who also lived in the complex. Bottom photo is the Ambaum Brothers Band featuring rocker and King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg on bass and doing vocals.

"Up from the Ashes” fundraiser for N. Highline Tra-Lee Apt. fire raises $6,500; More funds arriving

A fundraiser, “Up from the Ashes”, was held Saturday night, Feb. 17, at Bison Creek Pizza in Burien for victims of the Jan. 28 fire in the nearby Tra-Lee Apartment complex in North Highline. Over $6,500 has been raised, with more donations still coming in.

The fire was both dramatic and tragic. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. However, 90 residents were displaced. The fire was started by a malfunctioning baseboard heater, according to officials.

Bison Creek donated 10 percent of the day’s receipts. Event organizers volunteered, including Becci Harrison of Surgz Promotions, Renatta Emerson with Renetta Emerson Events, SeaTac City Councilmember Pam Fernald with Neighbors Without Borders Action Committee, B-Town Blog and Discover Burien Executive Director, Gina Bourdage.

Performing were Lark vs Owl, and The Ambaum Brothers Band featuring rocker, and King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg on bass and doing vocals. He has many local connections. According to the King County website, Satterberg lives in Normandy Park. He attended Highline High School. His father was a lawyer in White Center and his mother was a nursing instructor at Highline Community College.

Car Pros Burien Nissan donated $1,000. Their general sales manager, Ron VanGeystel of Normandy Park, was on hand.

"Ken Phillips, the owner, is a big part of this community, and asked me to represent Caar Pros," VanGeystel told the Highline Times. "I listened to some of the testimonials and I am very sympathetic to the families."

A "mystery guest" wrote a check for $1,500 and also bought several silent auction items. She asked the West Seattle Herald that she be called the "SeaTac Santa" and told us her donations were in part given "in memory of Northwest Airlines". (They recently merged with Delta.)

Victims shared their stories on stage prior to the bands performances. Charlotte Skeffington, with the non-profit New Futures, helped translate with some of the Spanish-speaking residents. New Futures services youth and family, and some families affected by the fire are involved with its early learning development programs.

Skeffington said the organization helped relocate some families. New Futures sites include Arbor Heights in White Center, Windsor Heights in SeaTac, and Woodridge Park in Boulevard Park.

Some victims spoke with us about their losses.

"We are very thankful to the community and to all the people here supporting the event," said Gaby Reyes, who lived in unit #203, next to the apartment where the fire started, which was #201. She and her boyfriend and three children are living elsewhere with friends until repairs are made. "We lost everything in the living room. We all know each other (in the building). With everything that happened we seem to be a community even more."

Her neighbor, and daughter's close friend, Evelin Govea, 10, attends Hazel Valley School in Burien.

"I lived in the apartment with my brother and parents," said Govea. "Now we live with my grandma who lives across the street. When we came out there was a lot of fire and smoke, but it was still cold outside. Grandma hugged us. No pets got hurt because they are not allowed to live in the apartment."

Nathali and Maximo lived on the first floor. They are twins. The fire occurred on their birthday.

"We turned 10 on January 28," Maximo said. "We came home from school and our mom had a little surprise (party planned) for us. She had ice cream cake. But this guy came by running down the hall, a neighbor, shouting that there was a fire. We had to move out, and we lived with our cousins, but we came back. Some clothes and toys got burned. but nobody died. Everyone is OK. Everthing is OK."

Added Nathali, "I think others need the money more instead of us."

Guadalupe Vazquez lived in the apartment where the fire started with her boyfriend and other friends, she said with Skeffington's translation assistance. She now sleeps on the couch at a friend's house in Northgate.

"Many complaints were made about the heaters in other apartments and nothing was done," Vazqueaz said. "I made a request to the management for our heater to be fixed. We lost everything."

She recalled what happened when the fire started.

"I was coming home from work," she said. "My boyfriend called me. He said the alarms should have gone off automatically, but someone had to pull the alarm. He was trying to put the fire out but it was already too far along. When I arrived I was in shock, just staring at the fire, frozen, without showing emotion. I am not going to let this break me."


Drop donation into any BECU branch and ask for it to go the “Up from the Ashes Fire Victims” fund.


To donate clothing, diapers, toys, please drop into Frenzi at 218 SW 153rd, Burien (206) 243-9000.

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