COLVILLE – A fire that consumed an apartment building killed two children early Friday.
Neighbors reported hearing a blast followed by a series of smaller explosions at the apartment, 471 N. Cedar St. in Colville, shortly after 1:30 a.m. Portions of the wooden, two-story building already were engulfed in flames when Colville firefighters arrived, authorities said.
The extent of the fire prevented search crews from getting inside, according to the Colville Fire Department.
A woman and a young girl managed to get out, the fire department said, but two boys, believed to be 4 and 7, died in the fire.
Their identities were being withheld.
Neighbor Krystyna Cutting, who lives down the hill from the apartment, described the fire scene as crazy.
“My mom said she heard the propane tank explode,” Cutting said. “It almost sounded like fireworks.”
The young girl who escaped the burning building was identified by her mother as 7-year-old Bailey Corona, who was treated at a nearby hospital for fire-related injuries.
The girl was visiting her father, Allen Spronz, who lives in one of the apartments with his girlfriend, Jamie Lord, and their young sons, said Sheena Corona, who rushed to the scene early Friday after learning about the fire at her ex-boyfriend’s home and arrived as the flames were still burning.
“The first thing that ran through my mind was the kids,” she said.
It’s unclear how her daughter, Bailey, got out of the building.
Sheena Corona said she hasn’t talked with the girl about the ordeal yet: “She’s … of course traumatized.”
A neighbor said Lord, who also was treated for fire-related injuries, was able to get the girl out and was close to getting one of the boys out too before being repelled by the intense heat and smoke. Others noted that neighbors who heard the explosion and saw the flames also were helping.
Sheena Corona said it was her understanding that her daughter’s father, Spronz, wasn’t at the apartment when the building caught fire.
According to Colville police Chief Robert Meshishnek, the family lived on the second story. The flames gutted the interior of the house, hurled shards of glass into the yard and caused part of a deck to collapse. Neighbors who live near the apartment said they left their homes early Friday morning because they worried that the fire might spread.
This was the second time in a week that children have died in structure fires in the Inland Northwest. On Tuesday, a 3-year-old girl died when a trailer home near Oldtown, Idaho, caught fire. Meshishnek said an investigation into the fatalities and cause of the fire was continuing. He anticipated an official report sometime next week.
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