SPOKANE, Wash. -- Foul play is not suspected after a body was found in the ruins of a Spokane fire.
Flames spread around 4:30 p.m. Thursday at a house converted into apartments near 8th and Jefferson.
Crews extinguished the flames within minutes of arrival and initially believed all of the residents escaped safely. Investigators searched the home later and found John K. Reintjes' body.
“He was laying all he way down, on the side in the fetal position,” said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, “this is something that is everyone's worst nightmare as a firefighter, to miss someone.”
Firefighters discovered Reintjes' body buried underneath clothing in a closet. Investigators suspect Reintjes was sleeping and woke up when the fire began. They believe he was disoriented and walked in the closet trying to escape. The heat melted the plastic hangers and caused the clothes to fall on the Reintjes’ body.
Firefighters found two, new smoke detectors in the apartment. However, neither of the smoke detectors contained batteries.
Neighbors told KREM 2 News that Reintjes recently moved into the building.
“It is sad to think about him dying like that. I just wish we had known he was in there, so someone could have helped him,” said neighbor Peyton Sunchild.
An autopsy on Friday determined that Reintjes died from smoke inhalation. No one else was injured. The Red Cross helped six other displaced residents.