Baby dies in fire; mother and son escape

By KARL SCHWEIZER

Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS — A mother saved her 2-year-old son from a house fire Friday, but flames kept the woman from getting to the bassinet that held her baby girl.

The 6-month-old girl died, and officials were trying to figure out what started the fast-moving blaze.

The fire, reported at about 6:22 a.m., destroyed the double-wide mobile home at 4105 139th Ave. NE in Lake Stevens.

Firefighters arrived seven minutes later and found the mother and her son outside, said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Lingenfelter of Snohomish County Fire District 8. Crews tried to get into the baby’s bedroom through a window, but were driven back by heat and smoke, he said.

Most of the mobile home was destroyed, said Ed Hardesty, a deputy fire marshal for Snohomish County. The fire began in the kitchen/family room area and raced through the rest of the home, fueled in part by abundant wood paneling, he said.

The 22-year-old mother was asleep in a bedroom and awoke to the sound of a smoke detector, Hardesty said. She went to another room where her son was sleeping and let him out through a bedroom window. But she couldn’t get back to her daughter, who was asleep in a bassinet in the mother’s room.

"By the time she got (her son) out and attempted to go back into the other room, there was too much heat and smoke," Hardesty said.

Lingenfelter said the fire spread "very fast" and charred the inside of the home. Crews were able to douse it quickly, but not soon enough to save the child.

The mother and son were treated for smoke inhalation and were being assisted by the American Red Cross, he said.

The tragedy struck deeply at Delta Rehabilitation Center, the Snohomish business where the mother and grandmother both worked, said Jennie Goettel, an employee of the center.

"A lot of us there had babies at about the same time, and that’s why we were so close. We all feel for her loss," Goettel said.

Goettel said she had watched the woman’s children and was given the 6-month-old’s outgrown clothes for her own 4-month-old child.

Goettel said the woman, a single mother, spent her waking hours working and taking care of her children. She was seldom seen without them, Goettel said.

The fire also affected the firefighters who responded, Lingenfelter said.

"I think the worst part is the feeling of the first arriving crew. You want to think that the child is salvageable, but you can’t get close enough to save them because you would probably lose your own life," Lingenfelter said.

The cause of the fire was unknown Friday and remains under investigation.

Hardesty estimated damage to the house at $80,000.

The house was insured and belonged to the infant’s grandmother, who had left for work before the fire broke out, Hardesty said.

The smoke detector played a vital role in alerting the mother to the fire and allowing her to get her son out of the house, he said.

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