Electrical Fault Blamed for Seattle Engine's Pumping Failure at Fatal Fire

SEATTLE --

A faulty electronic pad caused a Seattle fire engine not to pump water out on a fatal Fremont fire, said the Seattle Fire Department.

The fire engine was the first to respond to the fire on June 12. The second engine didn't arrived for another two minutes, said Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean.

After a 39-hour inspection, crews found the electronic pad failed to engage the pump, said Fred Podesta, acting director of Seattle Fleets and Facilities.

Dean said changes have already begun and that the electronic pad has been replaced in six fire engines. Crews will replace it in four more engines by noon Friday.

Five people, including four children, died in the fire: 22-year-old Eyerusalem Gebregiorgis, 13-year-old Joseph Gebregiorgis, 7-year-old Nyella Smith, 6-year-old Nisreen Shamam, 5-year-old Yaseen Shamam.

Dean said at an earlier news conference that he does not believe the mechanical failure contributed to the loss of life. He said when crews arrived, the fire was too hot and that a fully functioning truck probably couldn’t have saved their lives.

A mattress too close to a light bulb in a closet started the fire, Dean said.

A woman in the home during the fire opened the door to the closet where the fire started, as well as doors and windows to the outside, allowing oxygen into the apartment giving fuel to the fire. The temperature inside the apartment rose to 2,000 degrees, Dean said.

That woman was able to run outside with her 5-year-old niece, but didn't realize other family members were not following her.

The five others stayed behind, huddled in a second floor bathroom with no windows.

Dean said the Fire Department's goal is to make sure what happened in Fremont never happens again.

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