Fire displaces Vancouver family for second time in three years

Couple has two little children, another on way

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 
photoScott Frauen and Jolanda Kolahi are planning where they will sleep day-to=-day while also trying to find another rental they can afford. The couple, along with their two children, were displaced in a fire last week.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

It took Scott Frauen and his family a year and a half to find a stable place to live after an apartment fire left them homeless in 2011. Then they discovered a rental house in Vancouver's North Image neighborhood, that had everything they wanted: a washer and dryer, a yard for his two kids to play in and a rent that he and his girlfriend could afford.

But since a fire ripped through the garage and destroyed the house last week, Frauen and his family are finding themselves heading down the same familiar path.

"You wake up thinking everything's good, that everything's just going to start getting better," he said. "This is a very hard loss."

Frauen, 29, lived in the Rolling Creek Apartments in Hazel Dell on April 21, 2011, with his girlfriend, Jolanda Kolahi, 22, and their daughter Roxann Kolahi-Frauen. They came home that night to find that a blaze had engulfed 24 units, theirs included, making them three of the 56 people displaced.

"It was a big shock to us really," he said. They hadn't lost all of their belongings inside, but they were forced to bounce from place to place — staying on friend's floors and in a relative's basement — for more than a year.

Things appeared to have turned around for them when a friend offered up an extra room of a duplex at 6404 N.E. 137th Ave. That friend moved out a few months ago and the family took over the lease. They added another member to their family, 1-year-old Cyrus Frauen, and are expecting another child in December.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 14, Frauen was at home with Cyrus and Roxann while Kolahi was at work. The group had fallen asleep while watching a movie when they heard a pounding on the door.

"'Your house is on fire, your house is on fire!'" is what Frauen said he heard.

An employee of Linda's Tax Services, located right next door, had seen smoke coming from the garage and ran over to make sure everyone was out.

Kolahi rushed home from work and the family watched as fire, smoke and water destroyed their home and everything inside. Three other people, living in the other half of the duplex, were also displaced.

Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said that the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The family has received donations of children's clothes and the American Red Cross paid for the family to stay in a hotel for three nights.

To help them through this latest ordeal, family members have also set up an online donation account, and the BackAlley Bar and Grill where Kolahi works is donating 10 percent of its proceeds to the family, through Aug. 24.

The family is trying to stay positive as they look for a new place that they can afford, while also working at finding out where they will sleep day-to-day.

Being displaced by two fires within three years is something Frauen cannot explain.

"It's pretty bad luck," he said. "I'm just praying to God that there's not a third time."

Emily Gillespie: 360-735-4522; http://twitter.com/col_cops; emily.gillespie@columbian.com