Investigators have not been able to determine the cause of a house fire early Wednesday that injured all five members of a family, sending three to the Harborview Medical Center burn unit in Seattle. The home was destroyed.
Assistant Chief Rick Mack of the Riverside Fire Authority said the remains of the home are not structurally sound enough for investigators to safely enter and determine the cause of the fire.
“At this point, we haven’t done any physical processing of the scene because the building’s unsafe,” he said.
The fire authority is hoping the company that insures the home will be able to provide resources to stabilize the site enough for an investigation.
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Crews responded to the fire in the 400 block of South Oak Street about 1 a.m. and found that the blaze already had engulfed the house.
“It was very unusual for us to arrive at a fire scene and have the fire so well developed,” Mack said.
Crews were never able to enter the building because of the flames. Crews attacked the fire from the outside until it was extinguished.
Mack said he hopes the family can shed light on whether there were smoke alarms or if something else alerted them to the fire.
All occupants exited the house before crews arrived. All five people were initially transported to Providence Centralia Hospital for “thermal and smoke inhalation,” Mack said.
From there, three residents — a man, a woman and 17-year-old male — were airlifted to Harborview, he said. Two other occupants, both believed to be younger than 10 years old, remained at Providence.
An adjacent house was damaged in the fire, but is still standing. Five people living in that house escaped and were not injured.
“The fire got into the attic, so we had to go up and cut some holes in the roof to get into the attic and put the fire out,” Fire Chief Mike Kytta said. “I would think that it was repairable.”
The Chehalis Fire Department and Centralia Police Department also responded.