PRIEST RIVER — An early morning fire is believed to have claimed the life of a Priest River homeowner Monday.
Crews were called out to the fire about 5:36 a.m. While the fire was initially reported to be on Mud Gulch Road, when crews got to the end of the road they could see the home fully engulfed in flames but the fire was determined to be across the river on Tanglewood Drive.
When crews arrived, neighbors alerted them to the possibility that one of the homeowners might still be in the residence, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Tim Hemphill said.
While the home lies outside a fire district, West Pend Oreille Fire District firefighters came out to assist due to the potential of someone being inside the home.
Firefighters were able to knock down the fire and sheriff’s office and WPOFD crews held the scene overnight. The Idaho State Fire Marshal and detectives returned to the scene Tuesday and discovered what is believed to be the body of the female homeowner, Penny Dufek, 59, who worked as a nurse at the Newport hospital.
The family has been notified, Hemphill said.
“Our thoughts and wishes are with them,” he added.
Hemphill said the fire is believed to be accidental, with no indication of foul play.
“Right now, we believe it to just to be a terrible, tragic accident,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill said the cause and origin of the fire have not yet been determined and remain under investigation.
Priest Lake Ambulance also responded to the call.
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