North Whidbey house fire claims three

Police are still investigating Sunday’s deadly house fire north of Oak Harbor and say they are not ruling out any possibilities in the investigation.

The fire, reported at about 4:30 p.m. in the 4000 block of DeGraff Road, resulted in the deaths of Laura White, 25, and her two children, Ivylynn, 5, and Imriel, 3.

First responders reopened DeGraff Road Monday afternoon after spending nearly 24 hours processing the scene.

Island County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Wallace said Monday that investigators and forensic crime lab units were looking for any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

David Hamilton, a neighbor and eyewitness to the fire, said he and his wife first saw smoke from the home’s backyard about an hour before he heard emergency sirens.

Hamilton lives about 100 yards away. His backyard abuts the fire scene, separated only by a few trees.

“We just thought our neighbor was burning garbage at first,” Hamilton said. When he finally saw the flames rising above the trees, he immediately ran to the burning house.

“I dropped my chainsaw and ran over to see if I could help, but the house was already engulfed in flames,” he said.

North Whidbey Fire Chief Mike Brown said it took fire crews from multiple agencies about 45 minutes to extinguish the fire.

Hamilton said he never heard any yelling from the house and was unaware that people were inside.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said Laura White’s body was recovered Sunday night, but the two children were not recovered until Monday.

Brown said autopsies will likely be performed on all three victims.

“I have extreme admiration for our first responders, but one in particular, who I think is often overlooked, is Island County Coroner Robert Bishop,” Brown said.

During the past two weeks, Bishop has had to recover small children from two different fire scenes.

The other scene was a car fire on Camano Island, Brown said.

The blaze is under investigation, Brown said, but he downplayed any suggestion that a crime may have been committed.

Authorities said Laura White’s husband who had returned to the home as the fire was being extinguished, is cooperating in the investigation.

“At this time we have no hard evidence of criminal behavior being involved but are not ruling it out as a possibility,” Brown said.