Child dead in house fire near Milton-Freewater

The blaze on Locust Road is under investigation by state and county officials.

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Firefighters and investigators stand next to the remains of a single-family home at 53235 Locust Road which was gutted by an early-morning fire today. A mother and five children were in the home when the fire broke out. Although the adult and four children were able to escape, the fifth child died, police said.

MILTON-FREEWATER — A child died in an early-morning fire today which destroyed a home near here.

The fire at 53235 Locust Road was reported at 2:33 a.m., according to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office. A mother and five children were inside the structure "and all but one got out," said Senior Deputy Greg Dunagan.

The mother was identified as Marilu Meza, but the name of the dead child, who was believed to be 5-6 years old, was not available this morning, said Umatilla County Sheriff John Trumbo. Meza and the four surviving children were taken to a hospital in Walla Walla for treatment of burns and possible smoke inhalation.

Trumbo said investigators have ruled out arson. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the sheriff’s office with the aid of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office.

Terry Hackney, director of the Blue Mountain Red Cross in Walla Walla, said Meza is the chapter’s health and safety director. He said the Blue Mountain Chapter was working with the Oregon Red Cross chapter in Umatilla County to aid the family.

Smoke was still rising from the remains of the home this morning as investigators and firefighters searched for evidence in the gutted building. A vehicle parked in front of the home had been caught in the fire and heavily damaged. The portion of Locust Road between Winesap Road and Old Milton Highway leading past the house remained closed this morning.

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