Mom and kids flee fire and find shelter with the Red Cross

Justine and her 3 children enjoy a meal provided by the American Red Cross after evacuating their Bonney Lake WA neighborhood. September, 2020.

By Mark Walker

Justine Rosencrans and her three young children were sound asleep Tuesday morning when they were suddenly awoken with a command to flee. The family’s home on Myers Road in Bonney Lake was being threatened by rapidly growing flames and choking smoke from the Sumner Grade Fire that has destroyed at least four homes.  

“We were right in the path of the fire,” Justine said. “I grabbed what I could and we left.” But leaving posed its own nightmare as she had to negotiate flames, downed trees and downed power lines. “We left at 4:30 and were stuck in the car until noon,” she said. 

That’s when she and her kids Josiah,7, Kaylani, 6 and 2-year-old Naiyana learned the Red Cross was providing emergency shelter at the Best Western in Puyallup. “We’ve been here ever since, waiting to see if our home is okay,” she said.  

She did get a brief glimpse of it still standing during a live television report, but was still uncertain of its fate. Besides nearly all their clothes and personal belongings, Justine was forced to leave behind supplies for her temporary eyebrow tattoo business.  

The Red Cross has been providing the Rosencrans family three meals daily, and their Bonney Lake church New Hope has coordinated clothing and toy delivery for the family. “What could have been a complete nightmare now seems like kind of a vacation to my babies,” Justine said. “We’re doing okay as long as we don’t think about the fire.”

Her young brood is actually enjoying themselves, she said, staying busy in a motel play area and finding creative ways to pass the time. “And being served three nice meals a day really helps with the stress of the whole situation,” the mom said. 

As of Friday, September 11, the American Red Cross had provided overnight hotel stays for 1098 people in 393 rooms across the Northwest Region.

Help people affected by the western wildfires by calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the words WILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

American Red Cross Northwest Region

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