The doctor’s wife and two other children barely escaped the blaze and the house was still smoldering Thursday when firefighters shored up walls so they could look for bodies, Gig Harbor fire department spokesman Eric Waters said.
They found the girl’s body, but Waters said late in the afternoon that the search for Dr. Thomas Babson was being suspended until Friday due to approaching darkness and the home’s instability.
Waters said firefighters would maintain a presence at the site overnight.
The fire’s cause was unknown.
“Our priority is to get the fire out, locate the victims, then determine the cause,” Waters said.
The doctor was an emergency room physician who also was a commissioned reserve deputy, working with the Pierce County sheriff’s office on SWAT teams and emergencies such as meth lab discoveries, said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.
“We always wish for a miracle, but I don’t think that will happen,” Troyer said as he awaited the search.
The doctor’s wife escaped with their 12-year-old daughter. A neighbor rescued their 8-year-old son, Waters said. Those family members and the neighbor were taken to a hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. The 8-year-olds were twins, Waters said.
The fire was reported at 11:10 p.m. Wednesday and burned through the night, gutting the nearly 7,000-square-foot home.
Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to neighboring homes, even as water from their hoses froze in frigid temperatures, Waters said.
“Everything we put water on has all turned to ice,” he said. “It something we’re dealing with.”
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