Three people were found dead Tuesday in a fire that consumed part of a Deer Park-area house owned by a lieutenant in the Spokane Fire Department.
Fire officials were unable to contact Lt. Terrance Barnett-Canfield after the early-morning blaze at 20 E. Chattaroy Road southeast of Deer Park, and two of the victims were burned so badly that visual identification was not possible, Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said in an email to fire department staff.
Called just after 2 a.m., firefighters found the home and an outbuilding on fire. They knocked the fire down within a half hour and found the remains of an adult in the house, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators later found two more bodies in the house.
Officials said one victim was a woman in her 40s. No other details were released about the victims’ identities.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury and was treated and released on scene.
Spokane County Major Crimes detectives are investigating the deaths in conjunction with a parallel fire investigation led by the Spokane County Regional Fire Investigation Team. The fire was within Spokane County Fire District No. 4. A sheriff’s helicopter was sent to the area and could be seen circling over wooded acreage and open farmland.
The home is in a quiet, rural prairie near Dragoon Creek and U.S. Highway 395. Two horses were kept at the residence, which includes about 10 acres of land and other outbuildings.
Neighbors said a man in his 50s lived in the home along with a niece. They said the occupants were quiet. The niece has sons who would visit and also has a daughter.
County property records show Barnett-Canfield owns the home. He gained sole ownership in 2008 through a quit claim deed signed by Jana Barnett-Canfield, who he divorced in 2010.
Autopsies on the victims were scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. today.
“It’s a sorry, sad deal,” said Clyde Smith, a longtime resident of the area and a nearby neighbor.
Megan Hill, a spokeswoman for District 4, said the initial fire call was received at 2:08 a.m. by someone living a distance from the fire who thought it was possibly an illegal burn. A crew was dispatched to check on the report and found the fire.
The blaze damaged the main part of the dwelling, causing part of the roof to collapse into the ceiling. A small barn used to feed the horses at the rear of the dwelling was destroyed.
It was not clear how the fire started or spread, and it was not known if there was one fire or two, Hill said.
Two horses wandered across the fenced pasture this morning. Roxy Smith, wife of Clyde Smith, said the niece was a horse enthusiast who had been injured while riding. She said she had known the niece for years. The Smiths’ daughter had been a babysitter for the niece years ago.
“They really kept to themselves,” she said. “It’s terrible to have losses.”
Stevens County Fire District 1 and Deer Park Ambulance also responded to the fire.
The blaze was the second fatal fire within Spokane County Fire District 4 within four days. A body was found in the rubble of a fire that started Saturday and destroyed a home near Eloika Lake. That fire remains under investigation, Hill said. The identity of the victim had not been released as of Tuesday evening.
Staff writer Nina Culver contributed to this report.