WASHINGTON — Shortly after re-qualifying for the state girls tennis tournament on Saturday, Washington senior Erica Shangraw's excitement turned to ashes.

She and doubles partner Sierra Sonnemaker, who had qualified for state in 2015, had just finished third in the Normal U-High Sectional to earn a return trip to the state tournament.

But after returning to her house, Shangraw's post-tournament shower was interrupted by a house fire.

"My sister starts banging on the door, telling me to get out now, that there was a fire in the house," Shangraw said. "I thought she was kidding and trying to get me out of the bathroom, since I was taking so long.

"I got out, wrapped myself in a towel, and walked out, a little ticked off and annoyed, thinking my dad had just burnt his lunch or something."

That was not the case.

"I stepped into our kitchen to see a bunch of black smoke all of a sudden rolling onto our ceiling," she said. "Because of the heat and pressure being so strong, it blew the door open that leads from the house to the garage, and that’s when it hit me something was actually wrong."

Shangraw was able to get dressed at a neighbor's house before going back outside, "to see the entire street standing in the road, watching our house slowly burn."

She said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but that the house is now uninhabitable.

"Our whole garage (where the fire started) is collapsed, the two cars in it completely burned up," Shangraw said. "The smoke and heat destroyed our kitchen, living room, upstairs (our craft room with tons of pictures and scrapbooks going back to my mom’s college days), bedrooms... then there’s all the water damage. That destroyed everything in our basement and mixed with all the ashes inside our house as well. It’s just a huge mess, basically.

"Thankfully, no one was hurt. Every member of the family, including our three dogs and a rabbit, made it out perfectly fine."

Now Shangraw and Sonnemaker have to prepare for the state finals, which starts Thursday.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm a little shaken and have some trouble focusing on tasks," Shangraw said. "But tennis is the one thing that people have been congratulating me on throughout all of this craziness.

"And with my amazing coach and doubles partner being there to help take my mind off things and give me something to focus on, I know I'll be set. I'm not going to let this little bump in the road affect what I've been working toward for the past year.

"I just want to say thanks so much to everyone who has helped, offered to help, checked in on my family, donated clothes, gift cards, prayers, meals, and hugs our way. Things like this remind us how lucky we are to have the community that we do, and words can’t even begin to describe just how thankful we are for everyone." 

Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at jcampos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.