Deadly house fire in South Tacoma

Tacoma police say there have been a number of suspicious fires at a South Tacoma home that was the scene of a deadly blaze early Sunday.

The latest fire, which killed a woman and critically injured her husband, also is suspicious, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.

Eleven fire units responded to the house at 7202 S. Lawrence St. after neighbors reported a massive explosion and flames shooting into the night sky at 3:23 a.m.

Timothy Worrell, who lives down the street, said the explosion woke him, and a family member looked out the window to see flames shooting from a neighbor’s house.

“It literally felt like somebody hit our house with a car,” Worrell said. “It just shook the whole block.”

Tacoma fire spokesman Joe Meinecke said that arriving companies saw the house fully involved in flames. The fire apparently began near a trailer parked next to the house and spread into the attic.

Worrell said he ran to the house and found a homeowner running outside, with his clothing on fire. He was screaming, looking for his wife, and then ran back inside to get her, Worrell said.

Worrell said he followed him into the house to try to rescue him or his wife. Crawling through heavy smoke, he was able to make it about halfway in before he began to smell gasoline, he said.

He decided he had to turn around.

“When I went inside, it was a very scary feeling. But, (the neighbor) is a human being, he needs help, and nobody was doing anything,” he said. “I felt I needed to go in and try to do something. It’s like playing Russian roulette with your life.”

The woman later was found dead, and the man was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, Meinecke said.

Tacoma police are conducting an investigation into the death, and a fire investigation will follow.

Brian Everstine: 253-597-8374