by: Deedee Sun Updated:
KITSAP COUNTY, Wash. - A house fire early Saturday morning destroyed a two-story home just outside of Port Orchard.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office said a little girl, a baby boy, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 60s all died in the blaze. The victims have been identified as:
- Vili Gallejo Simpson, female, 63 years old
- Merle Eugene Simpson III, male, 38 years old
- Madison Ann Simpson, female, 2 years old
- Collin Daniel Simpson, male, 1 year old
Vili Simpson was the mother of Merle Simpson, and the paternal grandmother of Madison Simpson and Collin Simpson. Merle Simpson was the father of Madison Simpson and Collin Simpson, and the son of Vili Simpson.
The fire started around 3:45 a.m. Saturday morning on Southeast Castlewood Drive. Only one person, a man in his 60s, survived.
“The whole house was engulfed, really intense to see,” said Marco Grilli, a next door neighbor.
The sheriff’s office said neighbors tried to put the fire out with hoses.
“People were just, once they heard all the noise and the screaming, they were coming out to see what they could do,” said Scott Wilson, a deputy and spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.
But the fire had spread too far.
The flames had fully engulfed the house by the time crews arrived just before 4 a.m. and the fire had to be tackled from the outsie.
The fire damaged the house so severely that the roof was on the verge of collapsing -- and investigators couldn’t go inside the home to look for victims until after 3 p.m. Saturday.
At this point, the sheriff's office believes two little kids and their dad were in one bedroom, while the grandparents were in another.
Only the grandfather made it out.
“A great man, basically best neighbor anyone could ask for. He’s always there when you needed him or a helping hand. Very friendly,” Grilli said of the survivor.
Grilli says his family woke up to that grandfather pounding on their front door.
“He had come knocking in banging on our door, telling us to get out. The house was on fire. Again, looking out for us even in that kind of stress,” he said.
When he got out of the house, he saw the extent of the fire.
“Big, giant flames. We didn't know our house was actually kind of on fire too, up on the chimney,” he said.
He later found out no one else made it out of his neighbor's home..
“That was (sighs) gruesome, I think that's the word,” Grilli said.
He said he used see the girl toddler and the baby boy out playing.
“All the time. Playing with the neighbors' kids,” he said.
Saturday night, he was still processing the tragedy that happened here.
“Loss for words, it can go that quick,” Grilli said.
The sheriff's office says the grandfather is doing OK. He was treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital, but released and is with other family.
There were still many questions.
KIRO 7 asked how the fire started, whether there were any signs of foul play and if the kids were just visiting or if they lived there. Investigators said those are all questions they were working to answer.
Crews were expected to return Sunday to continue working.
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