Woman in downtown Everett fire died of overdose

EVERETT — A woman whose body was pulled from a downtown Everett apartment fire in December died from a drug and alcohol overdose, officials have determined.

Wendy A. Pirring, 47, died from the combined effects of methamphetamine, muscle relaxers and alcohol, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her death has been ruled an accident.

The Dec. 15 fire at the Hodges Building, 1804 Hewitt Ave., apparently started in Pirring’s apartment. Investigators’ early findings suggested the fire started near an overloaded electrical outlet.

The fire remains under investigation, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said Tuesday. Detectives still have a couple of people they want to interview, he said.

After the fire, the city placed the building under condemnation orders. The city previously had allowed the building to be occupied, though the owner was under orders to make safety upgrades. The fire displaced about three dozen people, some of whom have been allowed to return.

The city has imposed an April 30 deadline for landlord Pete Sikov to fix the building’s fire-damaged apartments and a broken elevator.

When the blaze broke out, the Hodges already was under an order to fire-proof the stairwells, or face condemnation.

After the fire, city inspectors identified additional problems with the building’s electrical system.

By late January, Sikov had fixed the electrical system and the building’s stairwell. That allowed people to return to 24 apartments that sustained no direct fire or water damage. By that point, however, many former Hodges tenants had relocated.

Another 12 apartments sustained damage from fire or water and remain legally uninhabitable. Sikov faces an April 30 deadline to repair those units, Everett city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said Tuesday. If he misses that deadline, the city could order everyone to leave the building.

The city also has told Sikov to fix the Hodges’ broken elevator by that deadline, or face condemnation, Pembroke said. The city put Sikov on notice about the elevator back in November, several weeks before the fire.

Building officials may consider extending Sikov’s deadline beyond April if he has made significant progress toward compliance.

The Hodges fire happened just over a year after another blaze destroyed the 1894 McCrossen Building at 1814 Hewitt Ave. That building, also owned by Sikov, was on the same downtown block. A man died in that fire, which was not believed to be suspicious. The McCrossen Building later was demolished.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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