VANCOUVER, Wash. - A Vancouver man apparently set fire to his own home, killing himself and five of his children, authorities said Wednesday.
Police said they believe those killed in Sunday's fire were 37-year-old Tuan Dao, 12-year-old Nolan, 9-year-olds Noah and Jacob, 8-year-old Samantha and 6-year-old Nathan. The names may be officially confirmed in a few days by the Clark County medical examiner's office, which is using dental records, said police spokeswoman Kim Kapp.
"The fire was due to the ignition of introduced liquid fuels which caused an explosion," Kapp said in a statement released Wednesday. "The fire was intentionally set."
Tuan Dao is the only suspect identified so far.
The Columbian newspaper reported that the Daos filed for bankruptcy last year, citing $158,000 in credit card debt. The paperwork also disclosed $2,000 in gambling losses. The couple also owed $262,000 on the house that burned, while the property was valued at $179,000.
Detectives are trying to confirm and corroborate details of Dao's activities in the days leading up to the fire, Kapp said.
The Columbian reported Dao's wife, Lori, and a 13-year-old daughter were away at the time of the fire.
A makeshift memorial was put up Tuesday along a chain-link fence. It included a white piece of paper that listed the names and ages of the five children killed in the fire.
The note was signed "From Friends at Hearthwood," an elementary school that's about one-half mile from the home.
The Columbian reported that a neighbor's surveillance footage showed a man driving a white Toyota Corolla into the driveway around 12:38 a.m. on Sunday. One hour later, residents reported hearing a loud noise and then seeing high, arching flames shooting from the house. The car remained in the driveway throughout the video.
The newspaper reported Vancouver police Sgt. Scott Creager said investigators are looking at Dao's recent financial transactions and matching those records against interviews with retail outlets.
Earlier this year, according to the Columbian, the family loaded its belongings into a moving unit, seemingly never to return. But Tuan Dao, who worked for FedEx in Portland, Ore., returned to the house in recent weeks. His wife, an employee of US Bank in Vancouver, did not, according to neighbors and family friends.