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photo of big white winthrop house in flamesAfter a few hours careful practice burning, local firefighters stood back and monitored while the house at 416 Riverside went up in flames. It was the local fire department's largest practice burn yet. Photo by Sheela McLean

History-Filled Smoke
Winthrop house burned

Local firefighters conducted fire training drills then completely burned down the big white house by the bridge in Winthrop on Saturday, March 24. The house had been sitting empty since 2009 and originally was scheduled to be burned last fall. However, by the time the paperwork was in order air stagnation was a factor and the burn was postponed until spring. The drills, with some fire in the house, started Saturday morning. The complete burn happened mid-afternoon.

The house, at 416 Riverside Ave., was purchased in 2009 by Cyndy and Jerry Oliver, who plan to build a carriage house with two guest rooms above a retail space. Eventually, the Olivers plan to build a main house with seven more guest rooms. They will incorporate some items from the original house, and perennials from the garden, in their new guest lodging.

Known locally as "Emy's place" or "the old mortuary," the house was built in the 1930s by Ralph Kenison, who had an undertaking business. Max and Emy Hallowell bought the place in 1966. Emy continued to live there after her husband died. She moved to Jamie's Place, the nearby assisted living home, in 2009. Sally Criswell, Emy's daughter, was planning an excursion with Emy to Wenatchee Saturday and is hoping that not a wisp of smoke remains by the time they return to Winthrop.

For a more complete history of the property see our previous story.

photo of large white houseThe house as it looked last fall when it was originally scheduled to be burned. Photo by Karen West



Have a comment?

My husband and I are new to Winthrop and the fire department after over 30 years on the Orcas Island Fire Dept. We would like to thank the Oliver's for the excellent opportunity to practice saving lives and property. Going into a burning building is extremely dangerous and volunteer firefighters die every year doing their job. It is always sad to see an "old landmark" go, but this one gave a lasting gift. Learning in a "training-fire" environment is rare opportunity. It helps everyone in the community we volunteer to protect. One that may save lives into the future. A special thanks to our fire officers for the high level of training. It was the best interior attack training I have attended in 30 years of service. We are honored to be members.

Max Jones