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Double fatal fire’s cause can’t be determined

Mon., Dec. 27, 2010, 3:31 p.m.

A fire that killed two Spokane-area women last week burned so hot that the flames obliterated any evidence of how the fire started.

As a result, the fire investigator for Spokane County Fire District No. 9 said on Monday that the cause of the fire has been officially listed as undetermined.

UnaBelle Turner, 91, and Jill D. Burdett, 56, died of smoke inhalation, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner. Their bodies were found inside the burned house at 6305 E. Upriver Drive.

Deputy Chief Doug Bleeker said that the fire was burning through the roof when it was first spotted by witnesses, and the first arriving fire engine also reported flames from the roof.

Glass exterior doors were broken by the fire, which then provided a source of oxygen to fuel the blaze along the floor and lower portions of the house.

Investigators typically search for and measure char patterns to find a point of origin, which often leads to confirmation of a cause.

Turner’s son, who is listed as owner of the home, had recently replaced a smoke detector and put fresh batteries in other smoke detectors.

Turner was Burdett’s former mother-in-law. Burdett had provided the elder occupant with in-home care. Burdett was also a waitress and bartender for years in downtown Spokane, most recently at Hills’ Restaurant and Lounge and at the Davenport Hotel.

Tags: fire

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