Man injured in house fire dies

A man has died from burn wounds from a residential fire in Greenbank.

Shawn M. Cavanah died Sunday from injuries he sustained Friday afternoon at a vacation home.

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, South Whidbey Fire/EMS and WhidbeyHealth responded to a call of a large column of smoke that could be seen from Smugglers Cove Road at about 3:45 p.m.

Central Whidbey Fire Chief Ed Hartin said the house on Rubley Road was completely engulfed with flames and was starting to collapse by the time first responders arrived. The sole occupant, Cavanah, had escaped the building and was in a neighbor’s front yard, Hartin said.

Cavanah had sustained burns on approximately 70 percent of his body and was airlifted to Harborview Burn Center in Seattle.

It appeared the 25-foot by 30-foot, single-story vacation house had been mostly destroyed before the call came, Hartin said. The structure was a total loss. Cavanah had used gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace. The vapors from the fuel are highly flammable and can be explosive.

“(Gasoline) should not be used as a solvent or in the ignition of other fuels in a fire place, grill, or when burning yard debris,” Hartin wrote in a statement.

The building was on a one-lane road with extremely tight turns, which made access difficult for the three fire engines and two water tenders, Hartin said. There were no fire hydrants nearby.

Thirteen firefighters from Central and South Whidbey fire districts responded with four WhidbeyHealth ambulance personnel. It took about 15 minutes to extinguish the main blaze and nearly another hour and a half to fully put out the smoldering material near the structure’s foundation and the nearby dead trees that had also caught fire, Hartin said.

  • A GoFundMe campaign to help the family raise money for funeral expenses can be found here.