Fire that killed Gladstone couple called accidental

Gladstone authorities today said the house fire that killed two long-time residents was accidental.Public Safety spokesperson Richard King said the fire started in the bathroom where the space heater ignited some nearby combustibles.

The fire was reported about 3 p.m. Thursday in the 2300 block of Northeast 59th street, about a block west of North Antioch Road.

Killed were Gerold and Deana Houghton, a couple who had lived in the home for nearly 50 years.

King said that Gerold Houghton, 85, tried to fight the fire because he was found in the living room with a fire extinguisher in his hands. Having failed, he apparently tried to escape with his wife Deana Houghton, 77, because the front door was found open, King said.

“But he was overcome by smoke and heat,” King said.

Deana Houghton was severely visually impaired and had very limited mobility, King said.

King said the house had poor ventilation which allowed the fire to burn inside for a long time before a neighbor notice that smoke was wafting through the roof. The fire consumed much of the oxygen inside, King said.

“The house was shut up tight, “King said. “It (the fire) reached the smoldering stage.”

King said the couple was well-liked and well-respected in the community.

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