2 people dead, 3 rescued in Washington house fire

Associated Press

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — Two people died early Friday in a raging house fire in Washington state, while fast-acting neighbors helped rescue three others from the burning home, witnesses and authorities said.

Witnesses used a ladder to help an elderly couple escape from the house, and another woman jumped from the roof into the arms of firefighters, Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard told KOMO News.

The identities of the adult and teen who died were not immediately released.

Donna Hensel, who lives next door, told The Associated Press she woke up early smelling smoke and stepped onto her deck to find the house engulfed in flames. She called 911, and in the meantime another neighbor came by asking for a ladder.

Hensel's husband, Mark, got a ladder and joined the other neighbor in helping the couple. Hensel said the man climbed up the ladder, broke a window and helped the couple to safety.

Mark Hensel also helped the couple down the ladder and across the street, she said.

Everyone in the house could have lost their lives if not for the efforts of the residents and police officers who arrived at the home before firefighters, Hubbard told KXRO.

The couple, who are in their 70s, were getting ready to move to Idaho, Donna Hensel and another neighbor, Lea Kemplin, said. The couple's family members had come to the area to help them pack and move.

"Thank God they're OK, but they lost family members," Donna Hensel said, sobbing in a telephone interview.

A neighbor who lives across the street also saw the fire when she awoke.

"I heard someone screaming," Bev Brown said. "The house was engulfed in flames, shooting out. It was terrible. It was awful."

Kemplin, who is friends with the couple, said she believed the two who died in the blaze were the couple's adult daughter and a grandchild.

Aberdeen is about 80 miles southwest of Seattle.

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