"Blaze damages home, art collectionA power surge may be to blame."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:36 PM
"A Monday morning fire gutted the historic Taylor Avenue home of local art gallery owners Wes and Andrea King, damaging their own collection of artwork.The Kings were eating breakfast in Winslow when the fire broke out, and no one was injured.Bainbridge Fire Department Executive Director Ken Guy said the fire was accidental, and apparently electrical in origin. The south end saw a power outage Monday morning, blamed on wind gusts. Fire officials are investigating whether a power surge as service was restored caused the blaze, but had not reached any conclusions.Wes King said he and his wife went to breakfast in Winslow when the power went out, and believe a surge damaged the kitchen wiring while they were away.Neighbors saw the house burning and called the fire department at 8:45 a.m. Nine units and 24 firefighters responded.There was little water damage, but fire and smoke damage was extensive. The kitchen extended into what had been a wooden back porch of the 1910 home, and that area was completely destroyed. The main entrance was littered with glass from the windows that firefighters broke to gain access, and the floors and walls were blackened.Most of our clothes are too smoke-damaged to be wearable, King said. A lot of books were damaged. Our ceramic collections are pretty much gone, and everything in the kitchen is lost.The art collection came through better than they thought.Most of what we had was the work of artists we carry in our store, Andrea King said. We can get more from many of them, but a couple of the artists are deceased, so of course that's gone for good.But you see amazing things. The heat of the fire broke the glass on some of our pastels, but the pastels themselves were undamaged. And a lot of the smoke damage on the oil paintings can be cleaned up, she said.Wes King estimated that roughly three quarters of the art collection can be saved. He was waiting for insurance and structural examiners Monday evening, and could not tell how much of the house could be salvaged.This is one of the last of the houses built for the Port Blakely mill, he said. The Englund family built it, and it's only had three owners since 1910. We'll save every bit of it we can.Two of the family's cats are fine, although one perished and two others are missing.The Kings said they would move into their detached studio once power was restored. This has got to be the most supportive street on the island, King said of his neighbors. Every one of them has offered us food and a place to stay. "