A toddler died in an early morning fire Monday in a home at 7030 Steamboat Island Road, northwest of Olympia, and the child’s mother is in jail.
Fire crews responded to a fully involved structure fire at 4:55 a.m., where it’s believed the fire started in the 18-month-old boy’s room and quickly spread to the rest of the building, which houses two families in separate units. Two adults and a child live in the main residence, and two adults and a child live in a garage/shop area that had been converted into a residence, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. The fire was in the converted area.
The child was put to bed at 2:30 a.m. Monday, and the mother went next door to a trailer where they use the kitchen, according to reports. Occupants of the main residence smelled smoke and alerted people in the trailer, including the mother. Flames prevented occupants from entering the building to rescue the child, and the mother received minor burns to her face and arms, according to reports.
Firefighters had attempted to reach the toddler, but were unsuccessful due to the fire’s size, officials report. The fire was extinguished, and the Thurston County Coroner’s Office and the sheriff’s office were called to take control of the scene.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office reported that the fire began when a hot plate — which was being used to heat the toddler’s room — ignited some clothes on the floor, Lt. Cliff Ziesemer said.
Residents in the duplex reported that two similar fires had occurred at the home within the past two months, but the fire department wasn’t called in either case, Ziesemer said. Those two fires began when a heating device also caught clothes on fire, Ziesemer said.
The 22-year-old mother was initially taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital, but was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of smoke inhalation, Ziesemer said. She was treated, released, and then arrested for second-degree manslaughter and transported to Thurston County Jail, Ziesemer said in a news release Monday evening.
Second-degree manslaughter occurs when a person’s death is caused by criminal negligence, according to state law.
Firefighters from Thurston County Fire District 13 were assisted by firefighters from Thurston County District 9, West Thurston Fire and City of Olympia Fire departments. Fire investigators will work with the sheriff and coroner to determine the official cause of the fire.