By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Carla Morton said she was awakened at about 4:45 a.m. Sunday by a vehicle honking its horn in the yard of the home she shares with her husband, John, and two daughters at 121 Clary Lane. The car was that of a passing motorist who had seen the flames from the road.
Carla Morton is a science specialist at Greywolf Elementary School in Sequim, and John Morton is a computer technician at the same school.
When she rushed outside, Morton said, she saw the barn fully involved in flames and embers drifting onto the roof of the house and nearby trees.
Clallam County Fire District No. 3 Chief Steve Vogel said embers also fell on neighboring homes, but no homes were seriously damaged.
Morton said she got her family out of the house, phoned 9-1-1, grabbed a few keepsakes, then turned a garden hose onto the home.
The house did not burn, and the family was uninjured.
But the loss of the barn hit Morton hard later. “I'm still in shock,” she said.
The barn and adjacent chicken coop were built in 1892 as part of the Baseggio Homestead, later known as the Clary Farm after the Clary family purchased the property in 1968. The Mortons are members of the Clary family.
The Mortons' home, located within 50 yards of the barn, also is part of the old homestead construction.
One was a “gigantic” dairy barn, and the other a smaller structure built at the same time, Morton said.
“This changes the landscape of Dungeness,” she said.
The smaller structure held 30 egg-laying chickens, a farm tractor and implements, antiques and building supplies from 1892, including huge timbers.
A late-model Ford F-250 pickup truck parked in front of the barn and a camper shell also were totaled in the fire, Morton said.
Morton said one of two farm cats showed up at the house, covered in soot, but another was still missing at midday.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, Vogel said, but Morton said that fireworks had been heard in the area over the past few days.
Vogel estimated the damage caused by the fire at around $150,000.
There is an insurance policy on the property, but Morton wasn't sure Sunday what was covered.
At 10 a.m., Clallam County firefighters were still covering the remnants of the barn with foam and putting out small grass fires that had spread to nearby pastures, Morton said.
Fire District No. 3 responded with 22 professional and volunteer firefighters using three fire engines, two water tenders, a rescue truck, a wildland engine and a medic vehicle.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.