A Washington state firefighter lost his wife and three children in a house fire at their new home while he was battling a separate wildfire 200 miles away, authorities said.
Raul Garcia-Santos of Benton City, Washington, lost his entire family in the frightening blaze around 1am of August 27.
The family’s single-wide trailer was engulfed in flames when deputies with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office dispatched to Green Acres Mobile Home and RV Park.
Once inside the home, deputies discovered the four dead bodies of Marcaria Garcia-Martinez, 32, her daughters Luz Garcia-Martinez, 17, and Michelle Garcia-Martinez, 6, and son Luis Garcia-Martinez, 15.
‘There was really nothing we could do,’ Chief Ron Duncan, of Benton County Fire Protection District 2, told CNN.
A house fire in Benton City, Washington, killed the wife and three children of a firefighter who was battling a wildfire 200 miles away. Pictured: The burnt home at Green Acres Mobile Home and RV Park
Victims (left to right): Marcaria Garcia-Martinez, Luis Garcia-Martinez, Luz Garcia-Martinez and Michelle Garcia-Martinez
A press release states that fire was so massive that one nearby residence caught on fire, but the family was evacuated from the home.
A neighbor told Tri-City Herald he was asleep when the fire first broke out, but was awakened by the sound of explosions and raced outside to find flames stretching 30 feet high.
The front of the family’s home was burnt beyond recognition, but firefighters stopped the inferno before it reached the back section.
The family had reportedly just moved there that day and the fire sparked on their first night inside the home.
A photo of Michelle Garcia-Martinez (pictured), who died in a house fire on August 27, was shared on a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral costs
Meanwhile, Raul was more than 200 miles south in Okanogan County fighting the Palmer Fire when he learned the heartbreaking news.
The Palmer Fire, which scorched across 17,988 acres, required 349 crew members from various emergency and wildlife organizations to quell the flame.
A number of evacuations were issued, but as of August 28 the Palmer Fire was 91 per cent contained and officials shared their last update.
‘The fire is completely lined and firefighters are now focusing on holding and improving their lines and eliminating any remaining heat within 200 feet of the fire’s edge or within 300 feet of structures,’ the Incident Information System reported.
An autopsy preformed on September 1 revealed that all four victims died from smoke inhalation.
Witnesses said the blaze (pictured) was so massive that it stretched 30 feet in the air and a nearby home caught fire
An investigation into the fire is ongoing, but authorities said evidence showed that the fire may have occurred because of an overloaded electrical circuit.
‘At this time it appears the fire started at the front or west end of the trailer where the kitchen/living room area was located, however the cause of the fire is still undetermined,’ authorities wrote on Facebook.
In an update on Wednesday, authorities said their investigation found no working smoke detectors inside the home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a January 2019 report found that ‘almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%).’
‘The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires), ‘ they wrote.
‘Either because no smoke alarm was present or an alarm was present but did not operate), as it was in homes with working smoke alarms (5.7 per 1,000 fires).’
Chief Duncan said the horrible incident underscored the need to install fire alarms inside homes and keep them up to date.
‘It’s a very sad case and it reiterates the fact that smoke detectors save lives,’ said Duncan.
Last Thursday, a GoFundMe was created on behalf of Raul to cover the funeral expenses for his wife and three children.
‘A family of 4 passed in a house fire they have no family here in the state of Washington just close friends I’d appreciate any help that we could get,’ an accompanying message read.
More than 500 people have donated to the GoFundMe in just a week and the campaign surpassed its $25,000 goal by nearly $2,000.
But the community is still mourning the loss of such a beautiful family with many of them sharing condolences online.
‘I could not fathom this! Praying for The Father and Family,’ one person wrote. ‘May God Bless These Beautiful Angels!’