Space Heater Blamed For Deadly Shed Fire
Fire investigators in West Valley say they believe a space heater was the cause of a fire in a shed on Ahtanum Road last Friday that took the lives of a father and daughter. The State Fire Marshals office is now handing the investigation with help from officials from the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or ATF office. The wooden shed was in the backyard of a home in the 7600 block of Ahtanum Road when it caught fire last Friday morning. Firefighters arrived to find the shed engulfed in flames. They were unable to get inside because the fire was too intense.
After dousing the fire they found the bodies of 49-year-old Fernando Ornelas and his 4-year-old daughter, Audrey. Both died of smoke inhalation. No foul play is suspected but lots of questions remain.
What they were doing on a cold morning in the Yakima Valley in a wood shed heated by a space heater is one of the questions that remain unanswered. Did Ornelas know or was he related to the person who owned the home? The investigation continues as officials search for more clues and talk to other family members.
Because of the two fatalities the investigation has been turned over to the State Fire Marshalls office which then called ATF investigators to get involved and help with finding clues. Fatal fires are rare given the number of fires Yakima sees every year say fire officials.
Yakima hasn't seen a fatal fire since 2019 when a woman died in a mobile home fire. The Yakima Herald Republic says 13 people have died in fires in Yakima County since 2014.