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House fire kills 2 troopers, WSP worker

Authorities investigate a house fire that claimed the lives of two Washington State Patrol troopers and a communications manager, Monday, Aug. 16, 2010, in Zillah, Washington. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax)
Authorities investigate a house fire that claimed the lives of two Washington State Patrol troopers and a communications manager, Monday, Aug. 16, 2010, in Zillah, Washington. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax) AP

ZILLAH - Two Washington State Patrol troopers and the head of the agency's emergency call center in Wena-tchee were believed to be dead Monday after an early-morning house fire in Yakima County.

Investigators had not entered the fire scene by midday, but the house was destroyed and there’s no evidence anyone escaped, the patrol said in a statement.

The victims were identified as Anne Miller-Hewitt, who supervised 15 dispatchers at the Wenatchee 911 center; her husband, Sunnyside-based Trooper Gary Miller; and Trooper Kristopher Sperry, a native of Eureka, Mont., who graduated from the State Patrol academy in June and was living with the Millers at their home near Zillah.

The cause of the fire was not known. Yakima County fire officials and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were investigating.

“We have no indication that this was a crime or a suspicious fire at all, right now,” WSP Lt. Jim Keightley said.

The fire was reported at 1:38 a.m. Monday in a 911 call from inside the home, which was several hundred yards from the closest neighbors, Yakima County Sheriff’s Detective Stu Graham said. Graham said he didn’t know who placed the call.

“It was a very brief conversation,” Graham said. “They said that the house is on fire, they were instructed to leave the house, and that was pretty much the end of the call.”

He said he did not know how long it took firefighters to arrive.

Neither Gary Miller nor Sperry were believed to have worked on any controversial cases recently that might have generated enemies, Graham said.

Miller-Hewitt, 54, began working for the patrol in 1987 and was promoted to head the call center in 2007.

Miller, 55, was hired in 1989 and was commissioned in 1990. He had served in Sunnyside since then.

Sperry, 30, was hired in 2008 and graduated from the academy in June after receiving an award for being the most physically fit cadet in his class. He also was based in Sunnyside.

“Personally it’s horrific,” Keightley told KING-TV. “It’s just unfathomable to me and others that knew them that we lost all three at the same time in the same circumstance.”

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