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News / Northwest

Name of man who died in Seattle fire that killed 4 released, death ruled suicide

The Columbian
Published: September 6, 2023, 4:16pm

SEATTLE — The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has released the names of four people found dead Saturday after a house fire in Seattle and ruled three of the deaths homicides.

The medical examiner said Wednesday that Lana A. Stewart, 40, died from multiple sharp-force injuries; Sebastino Ragusa, 7, died from asphyxia from the inhalation of toxic products of combustion; and 4-month-old Valentina Ragusa died from smoke inhalation.

Salvatore Ragusa, 48, died from smoke inhalation, and his death was ruled a suicide, the medical examiner said Tuesday. Police are investigating the deaths as an arson-homicide, The Seattle Times reported. A Seattle Police Department spokesperson said Wednesday that investigators are not looking for suspects. The city’s police Arson & Bomb squad is working with the Seattle Fire Department to determine how the fire started.

Though Seattle police have not disclosed the relationship between Ragusa and the victims, neighbors have referred to Stewart and Ragusa as a couple who lived in the house with their children.

On Saturday, a child escaped the house in the city’s Wallingford neighborhood through a window and contacted a neighbor, according to the Seattle Police Department. Someone called 911 and reported a person had died in the home that was burning. Seattle police said officers tried to enter the home, but the doors were barricaded.

Fire crews found the bodies of four people and a dog after extinguishing the flames. Initial reports indicated someone may have fired a gun around the time the fire started, but police haven’t said anything further about that.

Court records show Ragusa had finished a court-mandated county mental health program last year.

Ragusa opted into the program after pleading guilty to reckless burning and malicious mischief stemming from a 2019 arrest for starting a fire in Stewart’s apartment in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Stewart was identified in court records at the time as his ex-wife. He threatened suicide during the fire, the police report notes.

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