By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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A tenant, Mike Pruitt, and two guests, including Peter Mustin of Port Townsend, were airlifted to Harborview for treatment of smoke inhalation and burns after the house at 4660 Holcomb St. caught fire just before 5 a.m. Monday.
The house was destroyed, firefighters said.
The cause of the blaze is undetermined, said Bill Beezley, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue spokesman.
The investigation found that the fire began in the living room at the center of the house, with four possible sources: a candle or any of three electrical devices.
However, the damage from the fire was so severe it will be impossible to determine exactly how the fire started, Beezley said.
Pruitt and his 16-year-old son, McKinley Pruitt, were in the house, along with two houseguests: Mustin and a woman who was not identified to the newspaper.
The two men and the teen were identified by their Port Townsend-area employers.
McKinley Pruitt was not injured and is in the care of relatives, Beezley said.
His father was the most severely injured, said Diann Kuchera, owner of Waterfront Pizza at 951 Water St. in Port Townsend, which has employed Mike Pruitt for more than 20 years.
Kuchera was told that Pruitt was initially in serious condition with lung damage from smoke inhalation and some burns, and has been upgraded.
“At this point, lung damage is what they’re worried about,” Kuchera said.
Pruitt was in the process of moving from the rental home on Holcomb to a home he was purchasing, she said, adding that he has a daughter who is away at college.
Kuchera said she is accepting donations at the pizza parlor to help Pruitt with medical expenses.
Mustin is an employee at Corona Farm in Port Townsend and a graduate of Port Townsend High School.
“[He] has been a much-respected worker here at Corona Farm for more than two years — the best worker we’ve ever had,” said Robert Greenway, owner of Corona Farm.
“We’ll do what we can to help him pull through this tragedy.”
Greenway said Mustin’s mother had told him her son has been removed from tubes and respirators, and was walking around the hospital Tuesday.
The worst of Mustin’s injuries are to his lungs; his burns are relatively minor, Greenway said.
Mustin is expected to be transferred to an outpatient facility today.
Greenway said Mustin and Pruitt were friends from high school.
The woman who was injured in the fire has not been identified, but both Kuchera and Greenway said they were told by the mothers of the injured men that she, too, had been removed from respirators and would be discharged Tuesday or today.
McKinley told fire investigators that the occupants of the house lit candles during a storm-caused power outage late Sunday, and he was unsure whether all of the candles had been extinguished.
The teen told fire investigators that he was awakened shortly before 5 a.m. by the sound of shattering glass as another occupant broke windows to escape.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.