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Vancouver police investigating after 2 found dead in burning apartment

Police said that the two-alarm fire at a Harney Heights apartment building was preceded by the sound of gunshots from the same unit.
Credit: Vancouver Fire Department - FILE

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver police are currently investigating a suspicious apartment fire that led to the discovery of two dead men and displaced multiple people in the Harney Heights neighborhood overnight.

In an initial statement Saturday morning, the Vancouver Fire Department (VFD) said it responded to reports of a structure fire around 12:30 a.m. in the 2900-block of East 16th Street.

The first fire engine arrived within 2.5 minutes of the initial call to find heavy flames pouring from both the front and back of a second-story apartment in a four-plex, VFD said. Fire crews requested a second alarm, eventually bringing a total of 25 firefighters to the apartment building, including an engine company from Clark County Fire District 6.

Later Saturday morning, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) released a statement indicating that the fire was connected to a crime. Just prior to the fire call, 911 received multiple calls reporting gunshots coming from the 4-plex. Officers were already on their way when someone reported seeing smoke and flames coming from one of the units.

VPD said that officers began evacuating the nearby units, as well as closing down nearby roads and cordoning off the scene while fire crews worked to knock down the flames.

It took about a half-hour for firefighters to get a handle on the fire, VPD said. After getting inside to inspect the unit, first responders found the bodies of two men.

The scene is now under investigation by the VPD Major Crimes Team and VPD Arson Team. Investigators from the Washington State Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were assisting in processing the scene, VPD said.

Beyond the two men found dead inside the burned unit, VPD said that there were no reported injuries as a result of the fire. All other residents of the building were displaced and are now being assisted by the American Red Cross, VPD said.

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