Thursday, December 9, 2021
Dec. 9, 2021

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Woman critically injured in east Vancouver house fire

Firefighters rescued her from the home's garage

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
2 Photos
A woman was critically injured in a house fire early this morning. Firefighters rescued her from the home's garage, and she was taken to a hospital.
A woman was critically injured in a house fire early this morning. Firefighters rescued her from the home's garage, and she was taken to a hospital. (Kevin Stromberg/Vancouver Fire Department) Photo Gallery

A woman was taken to a burn unit in critical condition early Sunday morning after a fire trapped her inside the attached garage of an east Vancouver home, fire officials said.

Two dogs died in the blaze, and four more people sustained minor injuries while attempting to free the woman from the garage, which she had been living in with the dogs, officials said. A fire alarm and the dogs, who were yelping loudly, alerted residents in the house to the blaze, Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said.

Firefighters were dispatched to the home, at 3814 N.E. 99th Avenue shortly after 5 a.m. They arrived to find residents outside using various tools, such as a sledgehammer, to try to bust into the garage, said Kevin Stromberg, a firefighter-paramedic with the Vancouver Fire Department. Residents were unable to access the garage from inside the house because of the fire.

“Our crews rapidly went into what we call rescue mode, and we made entry into the garage by cutting the front garage door off,” Stromberg said. They found a young woman and the dogs inside.

The woman, in her early 20s, was transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center’s burn unit with life-threatening injuries, Scarpelli said. Her name was not released.

Four other residents had minor injuries, including smoke inhalation and cuts; three of them were transported to a hospital, Stromberg said.

After the rescue, firefighters continued to attack the fire, getting it under control by about 5:25 a.m., Stromberg said. In all, 19 firefighters, four engines and one truck responded.

Investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, but “it looks like everything we have is leading towards an accidental fire,” Scarpelli said. She added that it appears the fire was sparked by a portable heater in the garage that was placed too close to blankets and other combustible items.

Investigators are still working to calculate how much damage the house sustained. The home is described in property records as a single-story house with a daylight basement that is owned by Carol and Lars Olson.

The American Red Cross was dispatched to provide assistance to the nine adults and one child displaced by the fire.

Scarpelli said code enforcement officials will investigate whether the attached garage was converted into a living space through the appropriate permitting process. She also said the incident serves as a reminder to be careful when using portable heaters; keep them away from furniture and other combustible material, and make sure pets can’t knock them over.

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor