In Bremerton, sometimes helps comes across the water

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Mitch Watland (left) and Joe Campbell (right).

I don’t need to tell you that we live in a community surrounded by water. Our geography sometimes makes us neighbors not only with those next door, but to others across an inlet perhaps, or a passage, or even a narrows.

Anne Stamper and Joe Campbell are two such neighbors. Campbell lives on Marine Drive while Stamper’s on Madrona Point. They live 11 minutes by car from each other, but live just across the mouth of Oyster Bay from each other — a five minute kayak paddle, easy.

Their proximity across Puget Sound had life-saving implications early Tuesday.

As Campbell and friend Mitch Watland wound down their Fourth of July celebration with some Rainier beer on the beach by his home, they looked across Oyster Bay. From the distance, it appeared like a fireball was growing in an area near Stamper’s house on Madrona Point.

“I thought ‘that’s an awfully big flame,’” Campbell said.

Reality sank in. The pair decided to act fast. Watland hopped in a kayak. Campbell started calling neighbors he knew. He got one one on the phone; Watland began yelling for help as he got to the other side.

Campbell hopped in another kayak and headed to help, too. Watland got hold of a neighbor’s hose and started to spray the flames. By the time firefighters and police responded, the flames were out.

“If we had hesitated another two or three minutes, the whole house would have been engulfed,” Campbell said.

It appears as though the fire may have started due to fireworks. The Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

Stamper, who was sleeping, was grateful. She recalled Campbell as a teenager, coming over to help with landscaping at their home. Her husband, Larry, who has passed away, even once told Campbell that he needed to “take care” of his wife when he was gone. Stamper said Campbell’s held up to that promise.

“I think what they did was heroic,” she said.

Campbell said he was just being a good neighbor, but he also wanted to keep his word to Stamper’s husband.

“I gotta live up to the promise,” he said. “We made sure she was alright.”

2 thoughts on “In Bremerton, sometimes helps comes across the water

  1. Sounds like we have two awesome young men living in our community. Thank you for your quick response to save a friend’s home and most likely her life, also. It’s too bad there aren’t more people who aren’t afraid to avail themselves to taking action to save property and lives. Although I don’t know any of the parties involved, my hat’s off to these brave young men. God bless both of you!

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