OAK HARBOR, Wash. – A house fire in Oak Harbor claimed the lives of a young mother and her two children on Sunday night.
Island County sheriff’s deputies said the 25-year-old mother was at home at with her 3-year-old and 5-year-old children when the fire broke out.
A neighbor remembered seeing smoke an hour before emergency responders arrived, but assumed the occupants were burning trash.
“I saw only smoke heading up to it, and I didn’t think to look,” said David Hamilton, who lives next door. “Then all of sudden, just flames out of nowhere.”
He said when he saw the flames, he immediately dropped the tools in his hand and ran inside to grab his phone. By the time he was running up his driveway, emergency crews were speeding toward the home.
“From easily 40 to 50 yards away, you could feel the heat,” said Hamilton.
The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. in the 4000 block of DeGraff Road in Oak Harbor.
Island County sheriff’s detective Ed Wallace said the fire is still under investigation, and there’s no word yet on what might’ve started it. Names of the victims have not been released.
Hamilton said he was shocked to learn anyone was inside the home, when he began filming the fire, let alone a mother and her two young children.
“I assumed no one was home,” he said.
The children’s father was not at home at the time of the fire, and is cooperating with authorities in their investigation.
As a dad himself, Hamilton said the news of the children’s deaths hit close to home.
“My one child turned 5 a couple months ago,” he said. “I don’t even know what to say, can’t even imagine that kind of situation.”