Wheaton Way fire displaces six, injures none

BREMERTON — An exterior fire injured no one, but displaced a family of six from a home on the 3700 block of Wheaton Way early Feb. 20.

According to Jeff Prichard, deputy fire marshal, the fire that started on the house’s exterior caused about $50,000 worth of damage, and required the electricity in the house to be shut off for the time being. The fire also involved the attic and the kitchen. All that adds up to the house being “un-occupiable,” though “it doesn’t mean they can’t repair the damage; it’s not a total loss,” he said.

The 911 call came in at 8:23 a.m. Feb. 20; first responders arrived within about four minutes, Prichard said. By 9 a.m., the fire was extinguished.

“An exterior wall fire is going to be a really quick attack for our guys,” Prichard said. “The main body of the fire … I’m guessing within a couple minutes, they had a knock down of that.”

Prichard said that by the time he arrived at the fire, 8:52 a.m., “they were pretty much all done” putting out the fire.

The family living in the house consisted of three adults and three children, ages 9, 6 and 18 months. Prichard said that everyone made it out of the house safely, but it was a lucky thing they did.

“They woke up to heavy fire on the exterior of the house,” Prichard said. “They grabbed the baby, yelled, ‘Everybody get out of the house.’ It was kind of a close call … they had no working smoke alarms in the house. This was a pretty big fire by the time they realized what was going on.”

In the house, Prichard said there was only one properly installed smoke alarm, but the batteries had been taken out. Other alarms were “actually missing” from the house.

“We try to educate the public by getting information out,” Prichard said, “People are supposed to have them in their home. It’s a safety item. But the reality is … people are kind of left to make sure they care of stuff on their own.”

Rental units are regulated, unlike privately owned homes. This house was a rental, however, according to the fire marshal Mike Six, landlords are “supposed to provide (smoke alarms) when they move in … after the initial move in, the occupants are supposed to be taking care of them on their own.”

As of afternoon Feb. 23, the cause of the fire was still under investigation. More information will be added when it becomes available.

Michelle Beahm is a reporter for Kitsap Daily News. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.