Jack Shaw was returning home from breakfast with his teenage children when he pulled up behind a fire engine heading up Wagner Creek Road toward his house.
"At first I was concerned that someone's home was on fire," Shaw said, "but then I learned it was mine."
The Shaws were forced to pull over at the head of the driveway that leads to their home in the 10700 block of Wagner Creek Road. They could do little but watch as firefighters attempted to salvage what they could from the flames.
"We were going to run down to the home because our dog was inside," Shaw said, "but we were too late."
Petey, the family's 6-year-old Jack Russell terrier, perished in the blaze, which Jackson County Fire District No. 5 investigators suspect was sparked by a woodstove.
The 61-year-old Shaw has lived in the simple, one-story home since he was 19. It is the only home his children have known. "It's all destroyed," he said Wednesday afternoon, as he watched his children sift through their charred belongings. "It all went up so quick."
Fire crews arrived on the scene just before 11 a.m. and managed to knock down the flames within three minutes, Fire District 5 Capt. Larry Decker said.
"But in these smaller homes, it doesn't take long for the fire to move quickly throughout the residence," Decker said. "We are not sure how long it had been burning before it was called in."
Jack Shaw Jr., a Phoenix High School senior, donned gloves and combed through the thick ash covering the floor hoping the fire spared a few irreplaceable mementos.
"I hope there's something left," he said.
Cassie Shaw, a Phoenix high freshman, pulled a photo album from the ruins. She was pleased to find most of the pictures inside were salvageable.
However, most of her clothes and her brother's were either burned or permanently damaged by the smoke.
"I thought my jacket was OK, but the clothes hanger melted to it," she said.
Shaw said the landlord told him he intends to build a new modular home on the site and rent it to the family. Regardless, the trio lost the majority of their belongings and did not have renter's insurance.
"We don't have the basics right now — food, clothes and other things," Shaw said. "But losing the dog was hard to take. You can't replace him."
The Red Cross gave the family a voucher for a temporary hotel room. The elder Shaw said they may stay temporarily with his sister, who lives in the area.
For now, the Jackson County Fire District No. 5 station at 5811 S. Pacific Highway near Phoenix is serving as a drop-off point for anyone who wants to donate supplies to the family.
Shaw is a retired chef and has raised his children alone since his wife's death four years ago. He said he plans to stay in the Wagner Creek Road area despite losing his home.
"We love it here," he said. "I can't imagine living anywhere else."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail email@example.com.