Deadly fire at Vancouver house rekindles

A nearby house sustained some damage in the blaze

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



A deadly fire at a Sifton-area house apparently rekindled early Saturday morning, sending firefighters back to fight the stubborn flames that burned trees and damaged a home next door.

Crews were called back to 15209 N.E. 74th St. at 2:40 a.m. to find another fully involved fire, according to Vancouver Fire Department Battalion Chief Kevin Griffee. The house, a single-story ranch-style house was the scene of a blaze less than 24 hours earlier, when firefighters tried to save a woman who was trapped in a back bedroom.

The woman, identified by a family member as Donna Franchino, 58, was rescued by firefighters but did not survive.

“It appears to be rekindle,” Griffee said. Crews reported that winds of up to 25 mph out of the south made fighting the new fire difficult. Wind was likely to blame for the rekindle, Griffee said.

Twenty-foot-tall trees near the house were ablaze, and the Saturday fire damaged an adjacent house, breaking out a window and melting some plastic on the structure, Griffee said.

The first fire had been reported at 10:19 a.m. Friday when a neighbor heard an alarm and called 911. Firefighters arrived eight minutes later to find a fully engulfed structure. Crews worked to rescue Franchino by cutting a hole in an exterior wall near the bedroom window.

Aware of the Friday fire, Joseph Lehner, who lives down the street, said he was shocked to see smoke coming from the house early Saturday morning. Lehner works a graveyard shift at his job, so he said he regularly takes walks at night.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s quite a bit of smoke,’ ” he said. He called 911 and then “ran over there to see what’s going on … I saw just a little bit of fire going.”

Within seconds, however, that changed.

“The wind just started picking up, and blew it into the burnt part of the house,” he said. “It took off from there.”

One neighbor was already outside, so he ran to the house that sits on the other side.

“By the time I got to their door, within a matter of seconds, it literally just took off,” he said.

Fourteen firefighters brought the blaze under control within about 20 minutes, Griffee said.

The cause of the first fire, which is being investigated by the Clark County fire marshal, has not yet been released.