FOX ISLAND, Wash. - The body of an 8-year-old girl has been recovered after a house fire on Fox Island in Pierce County. Authorities said the house was too unstable Thursday afternoon for crews to locate the father, a doctor. They will recover his body Friday.
The doctor and his 8-year-old daughter were missing after a house fire, and Sheriff's deputies said there's no way they got out alive.
The fire broke out just after 11 p.m. Wednesday at the home on Sixth Avenue.
Fire officials said when they arrived, smoke and flames were pouring from the home, but three members of the family had gotten out -– the doctor’s wife, their son and one of their daughters.
Glen Garnett looked out his window last night and saw his neighbor's house being swallowed by flames.
He and another neighbor raced over and found a woman stumbling out the front door with her teenage daughter. They grabbed an 8-year-old boy from inside the smoke-filled doorway, just in time.
"He was limp as a noodle and he was kind of moaning at the time," said Garnett.
But there's been no sign of the husband and father, Dr. Thomas Babson, or his other daughter. They are believe to have been trapped inside.
"The smoke was too intense and the flames were approaching quickly," said Garnett.
Babson, an emergency room doctor at St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, was also a retired Air Force colonel and a reserve, commissioned sheriff's deputy for Pierce County.
"He goes into high-risk situations with us. And in case one of our guys or a suspect gets hurt, he's the type of guy that'll take care of the problems right there, until paramedics get there," said Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
Babson's friend, Dave Holsinger, shared photos of Babson with KIRO 7.
"He was a dear, dear friend. He was a special guy and always will be," said Holsinger.
A KIRO 7 crew saw flames hours after the fire began and the fire continued to smolder well after 5 a.m. Thursday.
Firefighters were unable to immediately search the house because all the water they sprayed turned to ice, making it dangerous to enter until daylight. But parts of the house are unstable, so an excavator was brought in to take some debris down and help shore up parts of the house.
By noon, fire investigators had gone through about 60 percent of the house --the areas safe enough for them to search--but they still hadn't found the bodies of the victims.
While investigators start looking for a cause of the devastating fire, friends of the victims are struggling to grasp what happened.
"The loss of a child's life -- loss of a dear friend. This is going to mar the family for the rest of their lives," said Holsinger.
The three surviving family members were taken to a local hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.