LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. -- Family and friends held a candlelight vigil Thursday night for a mother and her two daughters who died in a house fire in Winlock earlier in the day.
Officials said Thursday the husband and two small boys escaped the blaze, but that the man's wife and two small girls never made it out of the burning home.
Neighbors said they heard explosions and amateur video caught the flames leaping into the sky early Thursday morning.
“All of the sudden we hear this big explosion,” said Karrie Evans. “I’m thinking it’s a bomb.”
“The house was just engulfed in flames,” neighbor Mark Carter said. “I could here the lady screaming.”
When firefighters arrived at the home on NE 1st Street, the blaze was too intense to attempt a rescue.
“His wife and two other children were right behind him when he exited the residence,” Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams said. “He thought they were actually still right behind him.”
After the fire was extinguished, crews began carefully removing the debris and searching for victims.
By the afternoon, crews located three bodies in the rubble.
Shocked neighbors wondered what they could have done to help save the family, but Brian Thornton said the heat was too intense.
“You sit back and wonder, what could you have done more? But you couldn’t get close enough,” he said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.