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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Update: At least six die in east Vancouver house fire


    At least six people died in an east Vancouver house fire early Sunday morning, police said Sunday night.

    At first, authorities said two people died after fire broke out before 2 a.m. at 15304 N.E. 13th Circle, in a subdivision just east of the First Place neighborhood.

    About 7 p.m., six were reported dead.

    Names, gender and ages of the victims were not released.

    “”There is no information regarding outstanding suspects or persons of interest in this case and the origin of the fire has yet to be determined,”” said Kim Kapp, a spokeswoman for theVancouver Police Department. She said the bodies were taken to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.

    Neighbors in the Countryside Woods neighborhood said they were awakened by an explosion.

    “”I ran out barefoot,”” said Kathy Larsen, who lives next door. “”The flames were just intense and people were yelling that it could blow again. We were all yelling and trying to get the occupants awake.””

    Neighbor Jon Himes, who lives two houses away, said his surveillance camera recorded a man going into the residence at 12:38 a.m.

    “”The blast happened exactly one hour later,”” he said.

    “”We all ran out. My fiancee (Courtney Claybin) tried to get his car alarm to go off.”” He added Claybin also was in her bare feet and started toward the house but the front yard was covered with glass from the front window that had blown out.

    “”We heard the boom,”” Claybin said. “”The whole street lit up. … I was hitting the car to get the alarm to go off.””

    A man, his wife and three children had vacated the house about six weeks earlier, neighbor Larsen said. The man had come back several times, she said. There was “”strife in their life,”” Larsen added.

    She said the wife was not a victim because she was able to reach her on the telephone about 3:15 a.m. Sunday after repeated calls.

    Learning that at least six had died, neighbor Claybin said, “”I’m really kind of in shock.””

    She said she fears children died. She said she believed six children were at the house off and on in the past.

    “”It makes my heart just drop,”” Himes said after being told at least six died. “”That there really could be children. … All of us in the neighborhood had been worried about children.””

    Larsen knew the family but declined to provide names, citing her desire to give them privacy.

    Vancouver Fire Capt. Chris Moen said 20 firefighters with 11 rigs fought the fire; there were no firefighter injuries. The first engine arrived in about five minutes, Moen said.

    “”The fire was initially threatening a nearby home. Crews deployed hose lines to provide exposure protection to the threatened home, attacked the fire and performed a search,”” Moen said.

    The blaze was under control at 2:06 a.m. Moen said the house has extensive damage. The fire apparently broke out in the back bedroom on the east side.

    “”It’s just emotionally tragic for the family,”” Moen said. “”This has left a mark on everybody who is working on it.””

    The street of well-kept homes swarmed Sunday afternoon with investigators with the Vancouver Police DepartmentVancouver Fire Department and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ExplosivesVancouver Police Major Crimes Team Sgt. Scott Creager was among those working the case. Also at the scene were the Vancouver Fire-Arson Unit and the Portland Fire Bureau. An ATF fire dog also was at the scene, Claybin said.

    On Sunday afternoon, Larsen said, “”A very large thanks to the fire department because they saved the house closest to the fire (east side). And they were very cautious to make sure our house was protected. They saved many people’s homes.””

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