Idaho blaze kills family of four and teenage houseguest

SALMON, Idaho Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:26am EDT

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A fire sparked by an electrical short swept through a house in Idaho on Saturday, killing a family of four and a teenage friend who had been spending the night as part of a birthday celebration, a fire official said.

Orofino Fire Chief Mike Lee said flames had fully engulfed the home and likely caused the smoke inhalation deaths of the five occupants by the time firefighters arrived at a blaze reported by a neighbor at 1:38 a.m. local time.

The fire in the small logging community in north-central Idaho killed a couple and their two teenage children as well as the teenage friend, Lee said.

There was no sign of foul play, he said. Autopsies were planned early next week for the dead, whose names were withheld pending notification of family.

"It is the worst tragedy we've ever had in Orofino, fire-wise," Lee said. He added that two veteran Idaho state fire marshals reported they had never investigated a house fire that took as many lives.

The fire was ignited by a short in an overloaded extension cord on the front porch of a two-story home in a residential neighborhood, Lee said. He said the family was likely asleep when the fire swept through the rooms on the ground floor of the home, which was not equipped with smoke alarms.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (2)
Wetsuits wrote:
“Shorts” don’t cause fires. Shorts cause fuses or breakers to blow, removing the danger. Overloaded cords, like running a heater through a lamp cord, cause fires, as the wires heat up and the insulation melts and burns, without ever blowing the breaker. Light-duty extension cords really ought to have fuses built in.

Apr 14, 2013 1:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TJRob wrote:
This piece barely does the story any justice. On one side a family that had just been united by wedlock not even one year ago. They were renting the house with plans to buy it at some point. Allen West and I assembled the arbor from the wedding 3 ft. from the porch that caught fire and the Arbor never caught fire despite the high heat and speed of the fire.

The Young boy that was a guest in the West home for the celebration, had just moved from a small town in southern Idaho. I didnt know him personally, but I worked with his step-father at a small mill, and all He talked about was how much he enjoyed being with his boys.

No one is bothering to mention how old the home was, or the condition of the home the homeowner was renting. And for the electrical plug, It had been plugged in to the electric barbecue for several weeks with no noticeable problem. I definitely am not an expert, but I know it was really rainy, and windy when I left a few hours before the incident. So I thought the rain and the electricity was more of the cause than the extension cord.

I just would like to people to know how much this catastrophe is effecting our community. We are doing everything we can to ease the sorrow of having such special people ripped from our lives. As Allens Best-friend and Family friend I can say with confidence, that my perspective on life has been indefinitely altered, and the moments we have with each other should always be, cherished, loved, and never forgotten.

Apr 16, 2013 4:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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