House fire kills Washington three-year-old

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

KHQ – (KHQ) Investigators in Spokane, Washinngton are still looking into how a 3-year-old boy died in a fire Friday night just before midnight.

Firefighters say two adults and four children were in the home at the time of the fire, but one of the children and a family dog didn't make it out.

A family member tells us the 3-year-old is Noah Whitcher.

This happened in the Hillyard neighborhood, near Longfellow and Myrtle.

"I saw the flames and immediately knew what they were yelling about," Jerry Atabelo was getting ready for bed when he saw the commotion outside his bathroom window. "I was yelling at Lori to call 911 as loud as I could."

Lori Rayburn and Jerry ran outside, dragged a hose from their backyard and tried to help with other neighbors to put out the fire.

"And they're yelling that there's a baby in the house and the guys stood and put the flames out," Rayburn says.

The firefighters showed up shortly after, but unfortunately, the boy had already passed away.

"Then the firemen were just very distraught," Rayburn says. "They were sitting on the back of the truck crying."

Firefighters say he was found holding a stuffed animal, with the family's dog protecting him.

"I feel so badly for the mother," Rayburn says. "I do have a three-year-old granddaughter though and I can't imagine what they must be going through."

So now, Jerry and Lori hope the community will come together.

"You're neighbors. We have to look out for each other. We have to."

Firefighters say the house was a rental and did have smoke detectors, but there weren't batteries in them. The fire department canvassed the neighborhood following this tragic fire, passing out flyers to neighbors in Hillyard about fire safety, and encouraging them to check their own homes.

For information on how to apply to get a smoke detector from the Spokane fire department, give their main office a call 509-625-7000.

A friend of the family also tells KHQ they lost almost everything in the fire and need help starting over. If you would like to help, the family has set up a GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/child-and-his-pup-die-in-house-fire-2vjzcd8

About the Author: