Fatal fire likely not arson, say police

SNOHOMISH — Police are now nearly sure that the fire that killed a Snohomish family was started accidentally.

“We are 90 percent certain this was not an arson fire,” Snohomish Police Chief John Turner said Tuesday.

Investigators have narrowed down the location in the mobile home where the fatal Sept. 30 fire started, he said.

A makeshift heater and a power strip were found where fire investigators believe the blaze started, Turner said.

“Power supplies have a history of overheating,” the police chief said.

The leading cause of mobile home fires is faulty wiring, fire officials said.

Additional analysis is underway to help investigators reach a definitive conclusion on the fire’s cause.

Relatives of the family that died in the blaze said they feel better knowing the fire likely was an accident, said Juliana Montaño Flores, a sister-in-law.

“Thinking that someone would have a grudge against them is something we don’t need right now,” she said.

Investigators had considered the fire suspicious: A specially trained dog detected signs of a flammable accelerant at the mobile home. Test results are still pending to determine what the dog might have sniffed.

The victims were Maria “Sandra” Montaño, 28; her daughters Ashley, 7, and Yareli, 4; and her sister, Petra “Claudia” Montaño, 25.

The early morning blaze killed the family as they slept.

Countywide, there are roughly 18,000 mobile or manufactured homes, mostly in unincorporated areas, county property records show. Like the 40-year-old mobile home where the Snohomish family died, nearly one in five in the county was built before 1976, when government standards went into place to improve fire safety.

Federal immigration officials arrested the man who sold the mobile home to the family for $4,000 in late September, days before the fatal fire. He’s being held in a federal detention center for possessing fraudulent immigration documents and living illegally in the country, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Police were interested in the man early on during the fire investigation.

“We did want to talk to him,” Turner said. “He’s not a person of interest at this point in time.”

La Raza del Noroeste writer Alejandro Dominguez contributed to this report.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Everett’s Donna Witte at the Seattle Women’s March last year. Witte plans to join the Seattle Women’s March 2.0 on Saturday. (Courtesy Donna Witte)
Everett events part of national ‘March to Impeach’

“The main thing that draws me out is the realization I have been taking this democracy for granted.”

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

2 names released from recent fatal crashes

Both men were killed earlier this month.

Most Read