Woman, 2 girls feared dead in fire that ripped through house

WINLOCK, Wash. (AP) — Investigators expected to find the remains of a woman and two girls when they were able to search the debris of a house destroyed by fire early Thursday, authorities said.

The three were unable to escape the flames, while a man and two boys got out safely, Lewis County Fire District 15 said.

Winlock Mayor Lonnie Dowell, who lives about 300 yards from the house, was one of the people who called 911 about 2:45 a.m., The Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/182fWJI ).

He was awakened by a boom. “I was getting ready to go back to bed, then I noticed an orange glow and called 911,” Dowell said.

Two firefighters on call at the station were able to respond to the house fire quickly, but there was no possible way to save anyone who would have been inside, Fire District 15 Commissioner Stan Hankins said.

About 20 firefighters from Winlock, Toledo, Vader and Napavine battled the fire, which was still smoldering at dawn.

It would take hours before a search team could look for bodies, said fire investigator Sam Patrick, who also serves on the Winlock City Council.

It will be difficult to determine the fire’s cause because the house is so badly damaged, Hankins said. “It’s always a tragedy when kids are involved,” he said.

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Information from: The Chronicle, http://www.chronline.com

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