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Woman dead in Vancouver house fire

Man helps firefighters in attempt to rescue his mother from engulfed house

Published: January 9, 2014, 4:00pm

A woman trapped in a bedroom during a two-alarm house fire died Friday morning, despite the best efforts of her son and firefighters to rescue her.

The blaze was reported at 10:19 a.m. at 15209 N.E. 74th St., which is north of Fourth Plain Road and east of Ward Road in the Sifton area.

The woman was reported trapped in a bedroom of the single-story ranch-style home. She was rescued by firefighters, but did not survive.

Vancouver Battalion Chief Steve Eldred confirmed the death. The woman’s name has not been officially released.

Neighbor Don Clark said he was sitting on the porch when he heard an alarm, presumably a smoke detector, sounding.

He looked, saw the fire, and called 911. Clark said the woman’s son came home and tried to get to her. Clark got off the phone, grabbed a garden hose and tried to extinguish the fire, but it was too hot to get close enough, he said.

“Every room in that place was on fire,” he said. “It was so hot you couldn’t even get near it. Absolutely nothing you could do.”

Clark said the woman was well-known and liked in the neighborhood.

“She was a wonderful person,” he said. “She was just a really good friend and neighbor.”

John Snediker, who lives nearby, saw the fire as he was driving on Fourth Plain Road toward Northeast 162nd Avenue. When he passed the field behind the house, he saw smoke and thought it was someone burning leaves, but then he saw the back of the house engulfed in flames.

He turned down 74th and stopped in front of the house, where the son was yelling: “My mom! My mom is in there!”

7 Photos
Firefighters work to contain a fatal house fire Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, in Vancouver, Wash.
Fatal house fire Photo Gallery

“I am truly saddened that the woman was not able to be rescued. I can’t imagine the anguish that young man must be feeling,” Snediker said in an email to The Columbian.

The house is owned by Dino and Donna Franchino, according to county property records. It was built in 1980.

The fire generated multiple 911 calls, and firefighters radioed they could see the fire long before they arrived.

Firefighters first arrived on scene at 10:27 a.m., eight minutes after the first 911 call was placed, said Vancouver Division Chief Ward Knable. Firefighters from nearby Station 4 were on a medical call on the 11600 block of Northeast 66th Street when the fire was reported, according to emergency dispatch logs.

A second alarm was called a minute after firefighters arrived on scene, Knable said.

According to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian, the woman, who apparently had recently had surgery, was trapped in a rear bedroom. Fire raged in the hallway outside the bedroom as firefighters staged a rescue by cutting a hole in an exterior wall near the bedroom window.

By 11 a.m. the fire was mostly under control, with steam and smoke coming from the attic. Mop-up operations continued into the afternoon.

Clark County Fire District 3 assisted Vancouver firefighters at the scene. Clark County Fire District 6 staffed some Vancouver fire stations as the city firefighters deployed to 74th Street. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office and American Medical Response also responded.

The Clark County fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.