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Tuesday, July 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bones found at Curlew apartment fire site

Children, grandmother missing

Sara Leaming And Mike Prager Staff writers

Ferry County fire investigators found bones in the rubble of a devastating apartment fire in Curlew in which two children and their grandmother are presumed dead.

Officials declined to comment on the remains recovered from the site Wednesday, saying that a forensic anthropologist will have to examine the bones to determine whether they are human.

Ferry County officials confirmed that at least three people were missing in the blaze, which started about 1 a.m. Tuesday. Two others were injured, including Amanda Ryken, 22, the mother of the two children feared dead, said John Ryken, Amanda Ryken’s husband and the children’s father. Kelly Brown, Ryken’s mother, is also presumed dead, he said.

Amanda Ryken is in critical but stable condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the family said.

John Ryken said he is separated from his wife, and that she and their daughters, Gail, 2, and Helen, 3, were living with Ryken’s mother in the building, known locally as the Old Curlew School.

“We were in the process of trying to reconcile things when the fire happened,” Ryken said Wednesday. “I was supposed to come today and spend Christmas with my kids and stay until New Year’s.”

Ryken said officials have not yet confirmed that the remains are those of his children. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

“They went into the building today and they rummaged through what they figured was an upstairs bedroom and found a lot of bone remains,” Ryken said. “Some look like they were human, some were smaller than others.”

Ryken said funeral arrangements for his daughters and his mother-in-law will be made once a positive identification has been made.

“You never expect to bury your children,” he said. “Kids that young should never have to die.”

The landmark building, at the corner of Boulder Creek and Curlew School roads, has been on the National Register of Historic Places for nearly 30 years. It was converted to residences several years ago. The fire is said to have forced at least 30 people from their homes.

The building is owned by Joe Abraham. His wife is Ferry County Superior Court Judge Rebecca Baker. Abraham is traveling and was not available for comment this week.

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