The fatal condo fire that claimed the life of a Bainbridge Island man late last week in downtown Winslow appears to have been started by a candle, officials said this week.
Thomas F. Jennings, 81, was found dead inside the unit where the fire started, in a second-floor residence above the Winslow Green shopping center on Winlsow Way.
Emergency responders were called to Winslow Green at about 8 p.m. Thursday, April 18 for a two-alarm commercial blaze. Bainbridge Island Fire Department Chief Hank Teran said the blaze was reported by someone calling 911.
“The smoke detectors were working, as well as the carbon monoxide detectors,” Teran added.
There were in fact two residents in the Winslow Green condominium at the time, but one was able to escape and was transported to Harrison Hospital due to smoke inhalation.
Four others in the building were treated for smoke inhalation as well, but were not transported to the
hospital, Teran said.
None of those treated were emergency responders.
The county’s fire marshal investigated the fire.
“A lit candle ignited the couch in the front room of the condominium; the occupants tried to extinguish the fire but were unsuccessful,” said Kitsap County Assistant Fire Marshal Tina Turner,
The fire quickly extended past the condominium and into the adjoining units, and caused visible damage to the exterior of the building.
Firefighters got the conflagration quickly extinguished.
Photos posted on social media during the early moments of the fire showed large flames escaping from windows in the upper floor of the complex, above Bainbridge Island Community Pharmacy and an adjacent women’s fashion store, Skookum Clothing.
Multiple agencies from off-island responded to the fire.
At least six fire engines, a ladder unit and three medic aid cars — as well as multiple police vehicles — were called to the scene. Responding agencies included the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge police, Poulsbo Fire Department and Navy Region Northwest.
Teran said nearby condos sustained some smoke damage during the fire. The pharamacy below where the blaze began also had some water damage, but Teran said firefighters tried to minimize any damage by covering what they could with tarps.
“We tried to be proactive,” he said.
The building did not have sprinklers installed.
A damage estimate to the building has not yet been established.
The cause of Jennings’ death has not yet been determined, a spokesman from the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office said Wednesday.
Teran said he thought the fatality was the first in at least five years from a structure fire on the island.