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Success Stories

Dog Saves His Human From Fire in Forks

Phil Eggman, 360.470.9900
Joni Evans with her partner, Gunnar Grip

Joni Evans of Forks, WA lost her home to a fire in June 2014.  She narrowly escaped with her life thanks to her dog, Gunnar Grip.  Gunnar woke Joni up by barking and knocking her out of her chair, with only moments to spare before the house was fully engulfed.  She managed to grab a few personal belongings but otherwise lost all her possessions to the fire.

Joni applied for a USDA Rural Development Direct Home Loan to purchase a new manufactured home to be placed on the land she owned.  She was approved and her loan closed in April the following year.  Then in May 2015, her new home was installed and she was able to move in.

Joni had been living in a camping trailer without water or adequate heat for 11 months.  The town of Forks is a very tight-knit community, and there were fund-raisers and newspaper articles to support Joni.  But the donations from friends and strangers alike wasn’t nearly enough to replace the home and possessions she lost.  Without USDA Rural Development’s no down payment, subsidized interest rate 502 Direct Loan program, she would have been unable to qualify for a sufficient loan amount to rebuild what was lost.

Finally in June 2015, nearly a year after the fire, Joni was handed the keys to her brand new home.  Gunnar, who was named a Red Cross Home Town Hero for saving Joni's life,  excitedly explored each room. Sadly, in March 2019, Gunnar passed away surrounded by his loving family.  

 When asked how her life has been impacted by the fire, Joni stated, “Out of the worst tragedy came the biggest blessing.  This has been an incredible journey and I am overwhelmingly blessed and forever changed," she said. "With the help of the great team at USDA I got a beautiful home and for the first five years, Gunnar lived here with me. He loved the property and it has turned out to be a happy ending."


Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Washington: District 6