November 12, 1997 in City

House Fire Kills Elderly Spokane Woman Passer-By Discovers Blaze On Second Floor

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:Death

An elderly woman died from smoke inhalation Tuesday after a fire heavily damaged her south Spokane home, fire officials said.

The unidentified woman was pronounced dead on arrival at Sacred Heart Medical Center, said Spokane County Fire District 8 spokesman Gary Frey.

Fire crews were called to the house at 4705 S. Havana about 11:45 a.m. by a passer-by who saw smoke pouring out of the windows. When firefighters arrived, smoke and flames filled the top floor of the two-story house.

A crew from Station 81 entered the home and discovered the unconscious woman lying near a sliding glass door that leads to her second-story deck, District 8 Chief Dan Stout said.

She was having trouble breathing and had burns on 15 percent of her body, he said.

Firefighters carried the victim through the flames to the front lawn and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived to take her to Sacred Heart.

Next-door neighbor Richard Vigil said he didn’t think the fire was that bad at first.

“We thought it was a chimney fire,” he said. “I saw some of the cars slowing down and some stopping. Then that window there blew out, and we knew it was a real fire.”

Vigil said he was about to go call for help when firetrucks arrived.

“Someone in one of the cars must have called from a cell phone,” he said.

Heat from the blaze blasted out all the double-paned windows on the top floor, throwing glass into the well-trimmed yard.

Smoke scorched the white siding and sent an acrid smell throughout the neighborhood. The second story was gutted.

Investigators are trying to determine what ignited the fire, Stout said.

Vigil said the victim and her daughter had moved into the house this summer. The daughter apparently worked during the day, and the mother stayed home alone. “She seemed capable of taking care of herself,” Vigil said. “I didn’t know them very well.”

The women spent a lot of time remodeling the house earlier this year and were quiet neighbors, he added.

“It’s too bad what happened,” Vigil said. “I feel bad for the family.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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