Tuesday, April 25, 2000, 12:00 a.m. Pacific
by Frank Vinluan
Seattle Times Snohomish County bureau
A 56-year-old woman who got around with a walker because of multiple sclerosis is the apparent victim of a fatal cabin fire yesterday in the Lake Bosworth area south of Granite Falls, investigators with the Snohomish County fire marshal said.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office would not release the name of the woman until an autopsy today. Fire investigators did not know whether multiple sclerosis was a factor in the woman's death.
Nor did they know the circumstances of yesterday's fire. They had not determined the cause, though the fire did not appear to have been of suspicious origin, said Deputy Fire Marshal Gary Bontrager.
No one else was injured in the fire.
The fire in the 5300 block of Lerch Road was reported about 3:40 a.m. It quickly spread to a second cabin about 16 feet away, Bontrager said.
The fire caused an estimated $90,000 in damage to the cabin where it started. The cabin was the home of the woman and her husband; the man was not there at the time, Bontrager said.
The second house sustained an estimated $60,000 damage. No one was inside that house, the summer residence of a Seattle family, Bontrager said.
The Red Cross is assisting the woman's husband and the couple's extended family, said Red Cross spokeswoman Julie Garrison.
Bontrager said fire investigators still need to question neighbors about where they first saw flames and smoke. That will help investigators determine where the fire started, Bontrager said.
When word of the fire spread yesterday, Bill Brayer, a leader with the Sno-King Multiple Sclerosis Support Group, said he received e-mail and telephone calls from people asking if the victim was MS activist Teresa Baird, who lives in the Granite Falls area.
It was not.
In a telephone interview from her home north of Granite Falls, Baird said, "A lot of us don't want to think about something like that. But it's real. ... You're real vulnerable when you're disabled."
Baird, who is the government-relations chairwoman of the Washington Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said people who have difficulty moving around need to be particularly aware of fire-safety practices. She said she is training her dog to help her in emergencies.
With training, dogs can wake sleeping people, open doors and drag a
person away from fire, Baird said.