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Medical examiner seeks help identifying fatal house fire victim

One victim identified; officials hope to confirm identity of second victim

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Two people were killed in a fire that consumed the residence at 6901 N.E. 149th Court in the Sifton area on Sept. 1, as seen the next morning.
Two people were killed in a fire that consumed the residence at 6901 N.E. 149th Court in the Sifton area on Sept. 1, as seen the next morning. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office is asking for the public’s help in confirming the identity of one of two victims of a fatal Sifton-area house fire last month.

One of the victims of the fire was positively identified as 46-year-old Vancouver resident Wanda M. Francis.

The medical examiner said the second victim is presumed to be John E. Kovac, 83, of Vancouver.

The cause and manner of death for both victims is pending.

Officials need help finding the second victim’s dentist and biological relatives in order to confirm his identity.

Kovac is reported to have been a political science professor, according to a news release from the medical examiner’s office.

“He taught at McKendree University in Illinois. He moved to the Portland area in the early- to mid-1980s. He worked at a university in the Portland area. He reportedly has a son, David, and daughter, Laura, from his time in Illinois,” the news release says.

Anyone with information about Kovac should send it to medical.examiner@clark.wa.gov.

The fire was reported at 7:15 p.m. Sept. 1 at 6901 N.E. 149th Court, a cul-de-sac north of Fourth Plain Boulevard and east of Ward Road in the Sifton neighborhood. Vancouver Fire Station 4 is just a few hundred yards south of the home.

At least five engines and a ladder truck responded to the scene, as well as an engine from Clark County Fire District 3.

During the response, one of the victims was confirmed dead while the other victim was pulled from the burning home. The second victim was reported to be unconscious. Firefighters were searching the home for other possible victims, and said the ceiling had collapsed, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.

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