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Four boys and father killed in fire, mother escapes
Kimberly West - The Oregon Herald
  Sunday January 2, 2011 - 10:19 AM
 
REDMOND, Wash. - It was the mother's four young sons and the father of the boys who were killed in the apartment blaze early yesterday morning. The family had been celebrating the arrival of the New Year in their Redmond apartment.

Belinda Phelps, 46, who lives in the apartment complex but in a different building, said she and her 11-year-old daughter had gone to visit the family in their first-floor unit about 10 p.m. Friday.

She said they had a few beers and a few laughs and rang in the New Year as the boys were playing, happy, and content, jumping on couches and playing in a small tent in the dining room of the two-bedroom apartment.

The 30-year-old mother was able to escape the two-bedroom ground-floor apartment but had to watch as dense smoke and flames engulfed her home and her entire family. Neighbors held her back as she tried to run back in for her children.

Phelps said the oldest boy, age 11, attended Rose Hill Junior High School, and that other children ranged in age from 2 to 6, with at least one attending Benjamin Rush Elementary School.

The family had been struggling financially the last few years, after losing a house in Colorado and moving to Redmond, Phelps said.

The fire began about 2:30 a.m. on the ground floor of the Sammamish Ridge Apartments, 14820 Redmond Way, said Lt. Tim Gately with the Redmond police.

Neighbor Jared Wilson watched as her 30-year-old neighbor escaped a 2 bedroom ground-floor apartment with heavy smoke and flames engulfed the home and her children, all younger than 10. A man in his thirties also died in the fire.

"She couldn't speak - she was just hysterically screaming," said Jared Wilson who lives on a third story apartment in the same building.

"She was screaming and yelling, 'My kids are still in there,' " said a neighbor, who identified himself as Nick and asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy.

She was so distraught, it took three people to keep her from running back into the burning apartment, the neighbor said.

After she was taken into the management office, "she was trying to jump off the balcony of the office to get back," he said.

The mother of the children was taken to a hospital where she was reported in stable condition.

The names of the victims and the relationship between the man and woman have not been reported and no additional injuries were discovered. Residents of the apartments were evacuated.

Police are still attempting to see if the apartment structure wis stable enough to allow investigators inside to look for a possible cause of the fire.

Chris Champoux and his wife were asleep in their apartment when the fire broke out.

"The heat actually woke my wife up," said Champoux.

"It was an inferno, horrific."

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REDMOND, Wash. - A mother will have to face the fact that she had to watch in horror as her four young children and a one male adult burned to death in an intense fire that broke out in an apartment early New Years Day.

Redmond apartment
It was a six alarm fire and investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Washington State Patrol and a Seattle Fire Department canine arson detection unit were called to the horrible scene, on New Year's Day, though there were no immediate signs it was intentionally set.

"It's tough thinking about the fact that she lost her whole family," Wilson said

The buildings have smoke detectors but not sprinklers, which weren't required when the complex was built in the mid-1980s.

"It is an awful tragedy," said Teresa Lunsford, resident manager of the complex. She declined further comment.

According to Sammamish Ridge's website, it is managed by Pan Pacific Properties, a Seattle company that has nine apartment complexes in the Seattle area.

Photo 1: Father and his four boys

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