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House fire nearly kills South Kitsap woman

By

Staff Writer

A Port Orchard-area house fire Thursday night destroyed most of a single-story dwelling and nearly killed its sole inhabitant.

At 6:30 p.m., Fire District 7 firefighters responded to several calls from Travera Drive residents who said they could see flames jumping through the roof of a 63-year-old neighbor woman’s house. The residents also said the woman, who lived alone, was likely trapped in the burning home.

Fire personnel from five stations and numerous volunteers were called to the fire, which had involved most of the house by the time they arrived on scene.

Glenn Pappuleas, commanding officer on scene, said the first priority was to rescue the woman, if she was still alive.

“The fire was hot,” Pappuleas said. “Going in was very difficult.”

The fire, which Pappuleas said had probably gotten a good headstart by the time they arrived, was hot enough to severely burn the woman even though it had not yet reached the back bedroom where she was found.

“She was in the only tenable space in the whole residence,” he said. “Any other part of the house, if she had been in it, it would’ve been body recovery instead of rescue.”

As it was, however, the woman was found in her bed unconscious and without a heartbeat. Pappuleas said she had apparently been overcome by smoke as she slept. He didn’t know whether the house was equipped with working smoke detectors — he said he didn’t hear any going off when he arrived on the scene.

The woman had second- and third-degree burns over 20 percent of her body and first-degree burns over most of the rest of it. She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was still in critical condition Friday afternoon.

“It took some Advanced Life Support (ALS) intervention to get her heart beating again,” Pappuleas said.

After firefighters removed the woman from the house, it took another 15 minutes to get the fire under control. Pappuleas said, at one point, he considered abandoning the structure and instructing the crews to do defensive fire fighting — enough to keep the flames from spreading to nearby dwellings. However, crews were able to make headway against the flames and had the majority of the fire out in less than an hour.

The fire marshal is not treating the fire as suspicious. Preliminary reports indicate the fire likely started by the stove in the kitchen, which was located out of easy public view at the back of the house.

Total damage is estimated at $150,000.

After significant fires such as Thursday’s, Fire District 7 offers a neighborhood fire safety class to teach people more about fire hazards and fire protection.

The next class will be held at 6 p.m., Feb. 20 at Station 8, located at 1974 Fircrest Drive.

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