Tri-City Herald (TNS)
When a medical alert company asked a Kennewick woman to check in on a disabled neighbor Monday morning, she thought it was perhaps to help reposition her in bed, as she had done in the past.
But Dori Roberson couldn’t get the security code for neighbor Karen O’Conner’s door to work. She also kept hearing beeping noises coming from inside the home and the neighboring unit where her daughter Jadyn Roberson and grandchildren lived, though they stayed at her home the previous night to watch the Super Bowl.
“Then I looked over and I started to see smoke coming out of the chimney,” Roberson said. “And I could hear Karen yelling for help.”
Roberson managed to get into the duplex at 421 Conway Place just minutes before Kennewick firefighters arrived and carried O’Conner out. She was treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics but refused to be taken to an emergency room, a news release said.
The blaze is under investigation but firefighters said it started near a recently-installed baseboard heater in a back bedroom of Jadyn Roberson’s unit — in the room used by her children.
“The wiring around it was heavily damaged,” Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Terpenning told the Herald. “It was fairly suspicious.”
Jadyn Roberson’s family’s possessions are smoke-damaged and they will have to start over, her mother said.
“But if they’d been in there, they’d be gone now,” Dori Roberson said. “It would have taken them in their sleep.”
LifeLine, which provides emergency response for people with limited mobility or at risk of being incapacitated, contacted Roberson, who lives down the street, about 7 a.m. O’Conner needs help getting in and out of bed and her neighbor had assisted her before.
Dori called 911 once she realized there was a fire and continued trying to unlock O’Conner’s door. The code finally worked and she found smoke throughout the duplex once inside. She was unable to move O’Conner on her own out of fear of harming her before the firefighters arrived.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the bedroom where it started and the crawl space below. There was heavy charring around the crawl space, specifically following wiring leading to the baseboard heater. Benton Fire District 1 and Benton PUD also assisted in getting the fire out and the home secured.
A damage estimate wasn’t immediately available and it’s not known where O’Conner went following her rescue.