Family of 5 killed as cabin explodes near small Jefferson Co. town

KOMO News photo

BRINNON, Wash. - A family of five was killed in an early morning explosion that destroyed a cabin near Brinnon in rural Jefferson County.

Neighbors reported the explosion and ensuing fire around 1 a.m. Sunday on Salmon Street near Canal View Street and Highway 101, adding the hillside was also on fire and the cabin was gone, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and found two bodies near the remnants of the cabin. Three more bodies were found during an expanded search.

Investigators said Monday they believe the victims are a family of two adults and three children. Their names were not released pending an autopsy.

The cause of the explosion and fire remains unknown and may take several weeks to determine, Jefferson County sheriff's officials said. At this point investigators said they do not believe the fire happened as the result of a criminal act.

Members from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab and the ATF are on the scene to aid in the investigation.

A Spanaway couple originally identified as the owners of the cabin said they never rented out the cabin and that no one was supposed to be there. They say they checked on the cabin 10 days ago and it was locked.

But Art Frank of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says it appears the family of five was there lawfully, and were not trespassing. Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly said Monday that the family spends weekends at the cabin in Brinnon.

Reid Johansen, who lives down the street, told KOMO News he saw plenty of fire trucks and ambulances after the explosion.

"They just kept coming and I stopped counting at about 15," he says.

Fighting the blaze was made more challenging by the fact that there are no fire hydrants in the vicinity. In fact, many people who live in the area don't have running water; instead, they carry it in from the local community center, Johansen said.

The cabin is located in a development called Olympic Canal Tracts - with some 900 lots. However, only about 20 percent of the residences there are occupied year-round. The rest are summer vacation properties.

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