Orofino Police Department Press Release:
On 04-13-13 at 1:38 am a residential fire was reported at 261 Cedar Street in Orofino. A neighbor reported the fire after observing heavy flames and smoke. The first officer arrived on scene at 1:43 am and found the house engulfed in flames. The Orofino Fire Department responded and within approximately 35 minutes they had knocked the blaze down enough to determine at least 2 deceased victims were inside the residence.
The Fire Department continued extinguishing the blaze and Idaho State Fire Marshall Mark Aamodt was requested to respond. An Administrative Warrant to Determine Cause and Origin was sought and received at 5:19 am authorizing the Fire Marshall to enter the residence for observation, documentation, and collection of any and all samples or materials, as is necessary to reasonably determine the origin and/or cause of the fire.
The Fire Marshall arrived at approximately 7:00 am and began his investigation. Officers from the Orofino Police Department, Clearwater County Sheriff's Department, and the Idaho State Police were also on scene for investigative purposes. After entering the structure it was determined that there were 5 deceased victims inside the home.
Based on the investigation thus far the 5 victims are presumed to be Allen West age 31, Rosemary Wooster age 39, Trevor Wiley age 17, Zachary Wooster age 13, and Colby Stedman age 13. The first 4 mentioned victims resided in the home. Colby was a friend of Zachary's who was staying overnight in the home celebrating birthdays both boys happened to share on the same date a couple of days prior.
Based on the position of the bodies upon discovery and other factors yielded during the investigation it is believed all 5 victims died in their sleep as a result of smoke inhalation. It is not believed that any of the victims attempted to flee from the fire.
Positive identification of the victims and final cause of death determinations are pending as autopsies will be conducted on the victims. According to Clearwater County Coroner Will Rambeau, the autopsies have yet to be scheduled but are expected to take place during the upcoming week.
The cause of the fire was determined to be an overloaded power cord on the front porch that was plugged into an electric grill according to Orofino Fire Chief Mike Lee. Lee stated that no working smoke detectors were found in the home but the fire damage was extensive so he could not be certain that they did not exist.
UPDATE: BOISE – An extension cord hooked to an electric grill on a porch shorted out and started a house fire that killed five people Saturday morning, a North Idaho fire official said. Orofino Fire Chief Mike Lee said the house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived after a neighbor reported the fire at 1:38 a.m. He said smoke inhalation likely killed the two adults and three teens whose bodies were also badly burned in the blaze.
He said the dead were a family of four plus a teenage friend who was sleeping over to help celebrate a birthday.
He said he didn't know the genders of the teens who died. Lee said two of the teens attended the local school that houses seventh through 12th grade, and that one was home schooled. He declined to release names. Autopsies are planned Monday, but he said there was no sign of foul play. "It was an extension cord," the chief said. "They had it plugged into an appliance, and it wasn't heavy enough to pack the load of the appliance and the cord shorted out." He said the house, a rental, didn't have smoke detectors. He said three of the victims were found in bed. Lee said neighbors reported the family using the electric grill about 10 p.m. Friday, and that the family appears to have gone to bed by the time the fire started.
He said he wasn't sure if the electric grill was the type that had an off switch or heated up just by being plugged in.
"I would unplug it regardless," he said. Orofino is a town of just over 3,000 people next to the Clearwater River in a mountainous part of the state known for its rugged beauty. The house where the fire took place is just a few blocks from the river. Lee said the fire department has been in existence since 1911 and the only fire fatalities he could find in all that time occurred in 2007 in separate fires, so the five deaths are a big shock to the community.
"It's sad," he said. "I was just at the scene. There are already some teddy bears and flowers and things, a memorial put up there by some of the townspeople."
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UPDATE: It has been confirmed that five bodies have been located inside of the residence at 261 Cedar Street in Orofino. Names and ages of the deceased have not yet been determined and the investigation is continuing.
Press Release From Clearwater County Sheriff's Department:
OROFINO, Idaho - There has been a house fire at 261 Cedar Street in Orofino with multiple fatalities. The fire was reported at 0138 a.m. this morning. The Idaho State Fire Marshal is on scene as well as Officers from the Orofino Police Department and Idaho State Police. Investigation is ongoing and further news releases will be issued.