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Idaho blaze kills family of four and teenage houseguest


By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A fire sparked by an electrical short swept through a house in Idaho on Saturday, killing a family of four and a teenage friend who had been spending the night as part of a birthday celebration, a fire official said.

Orofino Fire Chief Mike Lee said flames had fully engulfed the home and likely caused the smoke inhalation deaths of the five occupants by the time firefighters arrived at a blaze reported by a neighbor at 1:38 a.m. local time.

The fire in the small logging community in north-central Idaho killed a couple and their two teenage children as well as the teenage friend, Lee said.

There was no sign of foul play, he said. Autopsies were planned early next week for the dead, whose names were withheld pending notification of family.

"It is the worst tragedy we've ever had in Orofino, fire-wise," Lee said. He added that two veteran Idaho state fire marshals reported they had never investigated a house fire that took as many lives.

The fire was ignited by a short in an overloaded extension cord on the front porch of a two-story home in a residential neighborhood, Lee said. He said the family was likely asleep when the fire swept through the rooms on the ground floor of the home, which was not equipped with smoke alarms.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)