Fatal fire believed to have been electrical

PORT TOWNSEND — The fire that claimed a Port Townsend man’s life over the weekend likely was caused by an electrical issue, said Bill Beezley, spokesman for East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.

The blaze at 320 Cook Ave. Extension on Saturday that killed 57-year-old Eric Paul Hermanson likely started at one of two spots in the basement and was ruled accidental, the Jefferson County Investigation Task Force told Beezley.

The task force believed the fire was electrical in origin but couldn’t determine which of two possible locations, which were about 15 feet apart, was the origin, Beezley said.

“There’s too much damage,” he said. “It was cooking pretty hot down there for a while.”

Hermanson, who was identified by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, was likely in the shower while the fire raged in the home’s basement, authorities said.

Shortly after getting out of the shower, the man became overwhelmed with smoke and was found about 12 feet from the front door, Beezley said. It appeared that he died from smoke inhalation.

Hermanson’s brother, Stephen, 64, had gone outside to investigate the fire when he saw flames shooting out of the basement windows.

“By then, the smoke was getting thick,” Beezley said.

Stephen yelled for his brother to come out of the house, but Paul was overwhelmed by smoke before he could get out, Beezley said.

The man was carried outside, where emergency personnel were unsuccessful in reviving him, Beezley said.

“From our perspective, it’s not suspicious,” he said. “We didn’t see any human causes.”

The fire was reported at 8:39 a.m. Saturday.

Beezley estimated there was at least $100,000 in damage.

The home was insured, he said, and the insurance company representative still needs to examine the home.

There was heavy smoke and soot damage throughout the home, though most of the flame damage was isolated to the basement.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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