Three girls die in Graham house fire

GRAHAM — Three young sisters who were visiting their father’s house during the weekend died in a house fire that broke out early Sunday in Graham. The girls were age 10, 11 and 13.

The girls’ father and stepmother escaped the blaze.

Graham Fire and Rescue deputy chief Gary Franz said the body of the third sister was found in the burned-out house about 12:30 p.m., about 12 hours after the bodies of the first two sisters were located.

Neighbors told KOMO-TV that the sisters usually visited the father’s house every other weekend.

Franz said the girls’ birth mother lived in the area, but he did not know where.

“This has just been tragic from the get-go,” Franz told The News Tribune. “The fire was just too far ahead of us to do anything.”

Franz said firefighters responded to the call shortly after midnight. He said they found “a significant fire involving the roof and upper level” of the two-story home.

Firefighters found the girls’ father trying to rescue his children by using a ladder to reach a second-floor window. Franz said firefighters took over the rescue effort.

Franz said a fireman went up the ladder into a second-story room, but had only about one minute to search the room before his partner warned him to leave because of the fast-moving flames. The fireman did not find any of the girls.

Franz said the father’s hair was burned, but he did not have to be hospitalized.

Firefighters suspended the rescue effort until they could knock down the heat and flames. When they reentered the house, they found two of the girls dead.

Franz said it took one hour to get the fire under control and more than four hours to completely extinguish the blaze. He said the house was “virtually destroyed.”

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire. Franz said there was nothing to indicate the fire was suspicious.

The identities of the victims were not immediately available.

Franz said Pierce County chaplains met Sunday with the father, mother and stepmother.

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