Mother, daughter die, 3 rescued in Washington fire

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Associated Press

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — A mother and her adult daughter died early Friday in a raging house fire in Washington state, while fast-acting neighbors helped rescue three others, witnesses and authorities said.

The women, ages 54 and 26, are from Idaho, but their identities were being withheld pending notification of relatives, Grays Harbor Coroner Dan Burns said Friday afternoon.

Two neighbors used a ladder to help an elderly couple escape out of a window, said Aberdeen Fire Chief Tom Hubbard said. Another woman climbed out on the roof and jumped, and was partially caught by one of those neighbors and an Aberdeen police officer who had arrived on scene, Hubbard said.

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

Hensel's husband, Mark, "ran into the garage and got the ladder. They ran over there and got them out," she said.

The man climbed up the ladder, broke a window and helped the couple to safety, while her husband helped the couple down the ladder and across the street, Hensel said.

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 elderly couple's adult daughter and a grandchild.

Hubbard said officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, which happened around 5 a.m.

Aberdeen is about 80 miles southwest of Seattle.

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