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Faulty cord blamed as fire kills 5 in Idaho

| Saturday, April 13, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

BOISE — An extension cord hooked to an electric grill on a porch shorted and started a house fire that killed five people on Saturday morning, a northern Idaho fire official says.

Orofino fire Chief Mike Lee said the house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived after a neighbor reported the fire at 1:38 a.m.

Smoke inhalation likely killed the two adults and three teens whose bodies were badly burned in the blaze, Lee said. The dead were a family of four plus a teenage friend who was sleeping over to help celebrate a birthday, the chief said. He did not know the genders of the teens who died.

Lee said two of the teens attended the local school that houses seventh through 12th grades, and that one was home- schooled. He declined to release names.

Autopsies were planned for Monday, but Lee said there was no sign of foul play.

“It was an extension cord,” the chief said. “They had it plugged into an appliance, and it wasn't heavy enough to pack the load of the appliance, and the cord shorted out.”

The house, a rental, did not have smoke alarms, Lee said. Three of the victims were found in bed, he added.

Neighbors reported the family's using the electric grill about 10 p.m. Friday, he said, and that they appeared to have gone to bed by the time the fire started. He was not sure if the electric grill was the type that featured an off switch or heated just by being plugged in.

“I would unplug it regardless,” Lee said.

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