5 die in explosion at home east of Vancouver, BC

Herald news services

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia — Five people died in a house fire that witnesses say started with an explosion Sunday morning in the community about 30 miles east of Vancouver.

A man and his son died in the fire and three people died in hospital.

Two women and a 12-year-old girl escaped the blaze by smashing a window on the second floor of the home, said Lt. Charlene Jordan-Jones of the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service.

One woman sustained a broken arm.

Jordan-Jones said nine of the 10 people in the home were members of an extended family.

A male tenant in the basement suite managed to flee the flames.

Witnesses say the explosion happened shortly before 8 a.m. The house was consumed in flames when firefighters arrived.

Six fire trucks were dispatched to the inferno that has caused firefighters considerable stress, Jordan-Jones said.

A lack of fire hydrants in the rural neighborhood meant the fire department had to call in four tanker trucks full of water.

In all, 60 firefighters worked for several hours to control the fire. All but nine of them were volunteers. By noon, the home was still smoldering

Investigators from B.C. Gas were investigating the cause of the explosion.

  • Electricity restored to most homes: Only a few dozen homes around Oregon were without electricity Sunday, one day after a wind storm knocked out power for about 20,000 customers. The storm, packing heavy rains and winds that reached 40 mph in Portland and 65 mph on the coast, snapped tree limbs and brought down power lines, causing scattered blackouts. Portland General Electric reported Sunday afternoon that only 50 people were still without power, down from 160 at midmorning. Pacific Power, the other major electricity provider in the state, said its outages were concentrated in the mid-Willamette Valley, where about 1,400 customers lost power in Scio, Sweet Home and Albany. Virtually all had power back on by early Sunday morning, Pacific Power spokeswoman Jan Mitchell said.

  • Man dies in three-alarm fire: A Tigard man died Sunday in a three-alarm fire that rushed through an apartment building. Flames were contained in half of the 24-unit complex, but smoke damaged the other half of the building and all tenants were evacuated. Most residents were able to get out of the building because the fire broke out during the daytime, said Tim Birr of Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. Investigators did not know how the fire started. Fire inspectors checked the complex last week and found several units without working smoke detectors, Birr said. Complex managers and tenants were told about the lack of debtors, he said.

  • Brothers sentenced for drunken-driving homicide: Two brothers pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide charges in the death of a woman in 1998. Jeremiah and Joshua Cox were sentenced Friday in a Roseburg court to three years probation and several treatment programs. Rona Agee, 39, of Roseburg, was killed in November 1998. A car driven by Jeremiah Cox, then 21, hit Agee’s station wagon head-on. Joshua Cox, then 19, allegedly grabbed the wheel of the truck moments before the accident. Agee died at the scene. Joshua Cox had blood alcohol levels over the legal limit. Jeremiah Cox’s blood alcohol levels were in dispute.
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