Kelso, WA House Fire Kills Seven, Jun 1986


Kelso, Wash. (AP) - A fire engulfed a house early Saturday following a party, killing seven people, including five young children, authorities said.
The front portion of the three-bedroom, wood-frame house was completely ablaze when 20 firefighters arrived, said Alan Headley, fire marshal for Cowlitz County Fire District No. 2.
Headley said five children and one adult were pulled from bedroom areas in the rear of the house and three were pronounced dead at local hospitals. The other three were taken to hospitals in Portland, Ore., where one later died, he said.
Firefighters later found three more people - one adult and two children - in the front section of the house. They were declared dead at the scene.
Headley said the fire appeared to have started in the front of the house, although the cause was still under investigation.
Police Sgt. Ed Nelson said firefighters found several people trying to break in through the doors and windows.
Neighbor GARY WALLACE, 22, said he had been at a party at the house and left about 15 minutes before the blaze broke out. He was across the street visiting friends, he said, when the lights started flickering.
Wallace said he went outside and saw the flames.
"I leaped off the stairs and the next thing I knew I was kicking in the front door," he said. He managed to get about three feet into the house, he said, but the fire was so hot it singed the hair on his arms.
Wallace said he ran around the back and tried unsuccessfully to break down the back door. He said he broke out a back window and gashed his arm trying to crawl in.
Then firefighters and police pulled him out of the window and handcuffed him to subdue him.
"I was going crazy," said Wallace. "Those were my friends in there. If I'd have been one minute earlier, I'd have been able to save somebody."
Wallace said he suspected a barbecue on the front porch started the fire.
"It was the only thing going," he said.
Nelson identified the adult victims as GENEVIEVE FREEMAN and JASON LEE, both about 26. The dead youngsters were identified as NICOLAS SYLER, 5; AMANDA STONE, 6; JESSICA FREEMAN and CRISTINA SYLER, both infants, and SONYA SYLER, 8.
Police did not immediately know the relationships of the victims.

The Town Talk Alexandria Louisiana 1986-06-22