Fire that killed three in Oak Harbor home investigated as accidental

OAK HARBOR, Wash. -- Investigators into Sunday's fatal fire in Oak Harbor say all signs point to an accidental electrical fire.

A press conference was held Thursday afternoon outlining the incident that killed a 25-year-old mother and her two children.

Island County Sheriff has identified the victims to be 25-year-old Laura White, 5-year-old Ivylynn White and 3-year-old Imeril White.

"Mrs. White died trying to get help for her children," said Detective Ed Wallace, with Island County Sheriff's Office. "We want to make that very clear."

The fire, he said, is being investigated as accidental. Within 9 minutes from the first 911 call for help, fire crews were on scene. They told Q13 News they arrived to find the home fully engulfed, and worked defensive lines to protect other homes in the area.

Authorities said the 25-year-old navy wife, fought not only for her life, but based on the location of where they found her body and injuries sustained, she fought with every last breath to protect her young children. They told Q13 News, the fire investigation being conducted is to help the family cope with their loss, there is no indication of the fire being anything but accidental.
White's husband had left the home before the fire broke out to run errands, said Wallace. He arrived home to find fire crews and emergency vehicles outside what remained of his home.

"There’s always fires that you’re going to think about and fires that conjure up memories," said Craig Anderson with Oak Harbor Fire Department. He said some are good memories, but others are not.

"Overwhelmingly it’s fires that we ask, 'What could we have done different? What could we have done ahead of time? What could we have tried to educate with that would’ve hopefully made a difference that could have prevented a tragedy from occurring in the first place?'"

The risk of deadly fires is the highest from now through March, the same time when many families are gathered together for the holidays.
"Now is the perfect time, when families are together and you’re looking for something to do, why not try to prevent a tragedy from ever occurring in your home and in your families’ lives," said Anderson.

Anderson said all it take is five minutes.

"Everyone in the home needs to know how they exit out of their room, two exits out of their room," he said. "It’s your job to get out and go to your meeting place and that’s where they will meet," he said.

Anderson suggests turning a fire escape plan into a game, time the children and first one out of the house to the meeting place wins.

Next, he said, test all the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

"Figure out where all the smoke detectors are and test no matter how high up they are in that ceiling, to find a stick long enough to test that smoke detector and assure the battery is in good working condition."

He suggested to do the same with fire extinguishers after alarms and detectors.

"Make sure that tragedy that lurks in your house that is waiting to happen is going to be held at bay for years to come due to the fact that you took those five minutes and made sure with your family that you were safe and you’re able to enjoy the holiday and those that are coming in the years to come."

Neighbors that made the initial 911 calls told operators that they did not hear any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors alarming when they saw the flames. Investigators said they have not been able to determine if the home had any working alarms or a fire extinguisher at the time of the fire.