A GoFundMe has been created to benefit a local man who lost his home, and his dog, in a recent house fire.
Don Dotson, 70, was one of the many people in Enumclaw who lost power on Sept. 17 when a storm swept through the area. Luckily for him, it was a simple matter to fire up his generator and head off to bed.
Dotson was sound asleep when his cell began to ring around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 18.
“I picked up the phone, there was nothing there,” he said, recalling some robotic voice reciting options for him to choose from.
That’s when he noticed he had no power again, even though he filled the generator so it would run for several hours more.
“So I looked down into the utility room, and I saw this big, bright light, like a ball. And the bright light moved left and right, toward the kitchen. I thought, what the hell is that? It’s not power,” Dotson continued. “So I got up to check the generator, opened the door, and bwoosh — just got hit in the face with smoke and fire.”
Dotson quickly escaped, but he soon realized his dog, Odie, hadn’t made it out. By then, though, the house was too dangerous to re-enter.
“I’m not stupid,” he said in a Sept. 29 interview. “I was desperate, but not stupid.”
Odie isn’t the first loss Dotson has suffered recently; his wife, Maggie, also died just three months before the fire from various health issues. The two were high school sweethearts and had been married for 52 years.
“If that phone didn’t go off, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said. “I don’t know if it was luck or my wife, but the phone went off. Never had before, never has again.”
The GoFundMe was created just two days after the fire by Heather Invie, who knew the Dotsons partly through Maggie’s workouts at The Garage Fitness on Cole Street, which Invie owns.
In just 10 days, the crowdfunding website raised nearly three-quarters of the $20,000 goal.
“I’m not surprised,” Invie said, adding that Don and Maggie were the kind of people who would do anything for neighbors, friends, and strangers. “So now it’s coming full circle.”
Dotson said he was embarrassed by being in a position where he needed to accept charity, but also said that he’s highly thankful for his community.
“I love Enumclaw… this community is a good community,” the retired cop continued, adding that he’s currently shacked up with his older sibling in Covington. “I love my brother, but my heart’s in Enumclaw.”
The money raised through the GoFundMe is expected to be used to help Dotson pay for bills while he uses his insurance money to build a new house — hopefully on the same lot as before, he said.
But if there’s any money left over, Dotson continued, he plans to give it away to a local charity to help other locals in need.
To donate to the GoFundMe, head to https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-don-who-has-lost-everything-to-fire.