Two men die in house fire near Kent; teen attended Thomas Jefferson High School

Two men died in a house fire that broke out at about 4 a.m. Friday in the 3900 block of South 238th Street on the West Hill in unincorporated Kent.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the men as Jan M. Van Allen, 69, and his grandson Patrick Van Allen, 19. The examiner ruled the deaths as accidental and the cause as smoke inhalation.

King County fire investigators determined the cause as an electrical accident from an extension cord, according to an email from King County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cindi West. The King County fire investigations unit is part of the Sheriff's Office.

Patrick Van Allen was a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in the Federal Way School District. Principal Liz Drake posted a letter to parents on the school's website that included a statement about Van Allen.

"Because of his quiet demeanor, your student may not have known him well," Drake wrote. "However, I suspect he may have made an impression on your student, as he did on me."

The school also offered grief counseling to students.

Valley Com Dispatch Center received numerous calls about a fully involved house fire with people trapped inside, according to a media release sent by the Kent Fire Department on behalf of Federal Way-based South King Fire and Rescue. The house sits in unincorporated King County.

The first firefighters reported heavy flames and thick smoke. Crews found two women in the front yard who had escaped the fire and who told firefighters that two men were trapped in the house.

Crews quickly attempted to enter the house to rescue Jan Van Allen and his grandson but were driven back by the flames, heat and thick smoke.

Minutes later, firefighters knocked down the fire enough that crews were able to enter the house. They found both men dead.

Red Cross is assisting the residents who were displaced by the fire.

King County fire investigators, who are part of the King County Sheriff's Office, have not yet determined the cause of the fire. No damage estimate has been released.

Emergency units arrived from the Kent and South King fire departments. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries.

The house sits in an area known to firefighters as "Federal Way Island," according to a Kent Fire Department spokesman. The neighborhood is part of Federal Way's fire district even though it is surrounded by the city of Kent.

South King Fire and Rescue and the Kent Fire Department each respond to emergency calls in the neighborhood, according to the Kent fire officials.

Erin George, a Kent city planner, said city officials refer to the area as the "West Hill Island." The Kent City Council proposed annexing the area in the early 1990s and residents of the area submitted a petition for the issue to go on the ballot. Residents of the area voted down the annexation and remain in unincorporated King County.

View Larger Map

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates