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Body found in house destroyed by fire

February 15, 2019 GMT

ANACORTES — A body was found in the hallway of a house that was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning in the 2200 block of 13th Street in Anacortes.

Anacortes Fire Chief Dave Oliveri said the discovery was made by Fire Marshal Jack Kennedy and a crew member after they returned to the scene to investigate the fire’s cause.

Anacortes Police Department Community Services Officer Karl Wolfswinkel said the police and fire departments are working to determine the cause of the fire, the cause of death and the identity of the deceased.

“As of this time, there is no indication of foul play,” Wolfswinkel said.

The fire was called in by a neighbor at 12:27 a.m., Oliveri said, and he surmised that the fire had been burning for some time before it was called in.

The house was “well-involved” by the time firefighters arrived, with flames bursting through the back of the house, Oliveri said.

The neighbor, Jordan Yeager, told the Anacortes American she and her mother were at home three houses away and could smell smoke. At first they thought it might be from a neighbor’s wood-burning stove.

When the smell became stronger, they decided to investigate.

Yeager said they saw “tons of smoke billowing out” of their neighbor’s house. She called 911 as her mother banged on the windows, trying to get the attention of anyone inside.

Then, “flames burst through the roof,” she said.

Firefighters did not go inside the house because of the fire’s intensity and fought the blaze from outside. By the time the fire was extinguished at 3:40 a.m., firefighters “had difficulty locating anything” because of darkness and major damage, Oliveri said.

“Thirty to 40 percent of the back of the house was completely destroyed,” Oliveri said.

The heat from the fire caused a valve on a propane tank, like the kind used with a propane grill, to release, and some observers commented on social media that it sounded like an explosion. Oliveri said the propane tank was dented by the fire, but did not explode.

Two houses next door to the burning home were evacuated as a precaution.