How a fire destroyed the family’s cabin in a forest in Minnesota
Posted On July 6, 2021
The Subaru Forester has been one of the most recognizable vehicles in the world since its debut in 1987.
But in the middle of the century, the Subaru was the only one in the forest.
It was a remote forest, remote from the highway and road, remote in the sense that it wasn’t part of any national forest system.
There was no public recreation, no park or recreation center, and no way to connect it to the rest of the world.
The Subaru was lost, as the family found out, on April 4, 2019.
The family was able to find it on April 5.
“We didn’t know what we had until we started digging,” says Julie Dolan.
“And then we found the cabin.”
The cabin was empty.
The front seats had been removed, and all the woodwork had been cut.
Julie and her husband, Bill, were shocked.
“I was stunned,” she says.
“You can’t imagine what the hell we were going through.”
The Subaru, which was the first vehicle ever sold with a rear spoiler and four doors, was an unusual vehicle.
The Forester had a long and complex history that began in the late 1920s and has included a number of different models.
For the most part, it was a family-run business that built its reputation on reliability, comfort and utility.
It had been a Ford Explorer since 1931 and was the company’s best seller.
The last Forester, the WRX, was sold in 1986.
For some time, the Forester was the most popular car in the U.S. The company had sold more than 10 million cars and trucks in its history.
But the company was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2007-08.
Many Foresters, especially the Subaru, were made in China.
The factory in Ketchikan, Alaska, was shut down.
The vehicle was bought by a Canadian company, which also made the Subaru Foresters.
“When we got to Ketchikans factory, we just thought, ‘Wow, this is a different car,'” recalls Julie.
“It was just really, really different.
It looked different.
We knew it was the car we were building, and we were excited about it.
And then the car started to die.”
The car was a work in progress.
Julie recalls that when she arrived at the factory, the engine had been sitting there for weeks.
“There was no way we were taking the car off the assembly line and replacing it,” she recalls.
“The engine was sitting in the engine bay and it was completely stripped.
We started to do some work on the engine, but we were also building a new transmission and some new tires.
And we had no idea how to fix it.
We thought we were just going to take it apart and get it rebuilt, but it was still a work-in-progress.
We just thought it was going to be just as bad as before.”
But there were other problems.
The transmission was missing a clutch.
The tires had been damaged in the fire.
“Every single component was totally gone,” Julie says.
And the engine was running at 30 per cent throttle.
Julie says the Subaru team at Ketchika knew that something was wrong.
The first thing they did was call in an engine technician.
But they didn’t have a replacement engine.
So they sent an employee from the dealership to get the car out.
The car arrived at Kalek and they took it to their maintenance department.
“They had no clue what was wrong,” Julie remembers.
“A mechanic, they came in and looked at the car, and they were like, ‘It’s not the car.’
And then they were saying, ‘Is there anything wrong with it?'”
The mechanic explained that there was a fire.
The engine had burnt out.
But Julie says that wasn’t the end of the story.
The mechanics didn’t do a good job of diagnosing the problem.
“All the gauges were off,” she said.
“What was the last time you checked a tire?”
The problem wasn’t with the transmission.
The problem was with the brake fluid.
The brake fluid was leaking.
“That’s the last thing we thought,” Julie recalls.
The dealership staff took the Subaru to an auto parts shop.
“But we didn’t want to take the car to the dealership,” she explains.
“Because the mechanic didn’t think it was an issue,” she adds.
The team at the dealership took the car and put it back in service.
“Then we went back to the factory,” Julie explains.
And that was it.
The Fireworks Factory was a different company.
“In the last six months of 2019, we’ve gone from an operation that was doing one car a day, to now we have a vehicle that has been in service for three years,” Julie Drolan says.
But that didn’t happen overnight.