Whitaker trailer fire

A fire destroyed an uninsured trailer home at 4761 Whitaker Road in Chubbuck on Tuesday morning.

CHUBBUCK — Shane and Tawnya Turner say a Tuesday morning fire destroyed their uninsured trailer home, as well as their belongings, and killed several family pets.

The cause of the fire that burned the couple’s three-bedroom trailer home at 4761 Whitaker Road is undetermined. The Turners say they also lost at least three of their five cats, a parrot and their parakeets.

The couple owns a food truck, called the Picnic Basket, that typically operates from the old Raven’s Nest parking lot at 201 N. Fifth Ave., in Pocatello. They were both at the food truck when the fire department called them with bad news at about 10 a.m.

He arrived at home to find a pair of firetrucks battling flames reaching about 6 feet above the roof.

“So far, they haven’t been able to determine what caused the fire,” Tawnya Turner said. “They said it wasn’t electrical. They said it wasn’t the furnace.”

When the fire was out and Shane Turner finally got to search inside for his pets, he found the bodies of three of his cats. He’s still seeking the whereabouts of his other two cats.

The Turners have lived in their home for about 30 years and paid it off about four years ago. Shane Turner explained they didn’t insure the home or their belongings because they were investing “every dime we had” into making their food truck a success.

Shane Turner, 47, used to work for a business that set up stages and equipment for concerts in Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming. But he was physically unable to keep working the job after being involved in a bad traffic accident about 17 years ago, when he seriously injured his back, broke eight ribs and collapsed a lung.

Tawnya Turner, 47, was diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago and said she couldn’t continue working because of sickness related to treatments. She’s been in remission for the past two years.

The Turners love to cook. They’d long daydreamed about what they’d include on the menu if they were to open a restaurant, and they loved idea of spending their days together. So they took a chance and cashed in their retirement to buy a food truck, and get it up to code, about four years ago. They opened for business in the spring of 2015.

“People are starting to notice us. We’re starting to get regulars come back,” Tawnya Turner said.

Shane Turner spent three years perfecting the signature barbecue sauce served at the Picnic Basket. He said his Philly cheesesteak is also a favorite among customers.

They plan to reopen the food truck for business on Monday. They operate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., though they anticipate they’ll soon open an hour earlier, hoping to increase their income.

The couple has been living with a family member, Eryn Dearborn.

“They have been my best friends for 20 something years, and I aspire to be someday like them,” Dearborn said. “As long as they need to be here, they can be here.”

Dearborn has established a trust account for the “Turner Family Fire Relief Fund” at Mountain America Credit Union. She also plans to soon start an online fundraiser at Gofundme.com.

The Turners said they lost a cotton candy and popcorn machine their food truck used for special events during the fire, and they’re seeking donations from the community to replace them.

They’ve already been overwhelmed by the generosity of people within the community. The local ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought them coats, replacement clothing and food, even though they’re not members of church.

The Chubbuck Police Department helped with traffic control on the scene, and the Chubbuck Fire Department responded to the blaze. Anyone seeking to help the family, or who may have knowledge of the whereabouts of their cats may contact them at cstplayn@gmail.com.