Updated: Oroville woman perishes in house fire

Coroner says woman died of smoke inhalation

OROVILLE — A 77-year-old Oroville woman was found dead in her house Monday, Nov. 14, after firefighters extinguished the fire that destroyed her home that afternoon.

Maria Del Socorro Rodriguez Garcia, was a longtime resident of the Oroville area who lived alone in an older single family house with a basement at 35 Eastside Oroville Road, said Oroville Fire Chief Rod Noel.

Noel said the Rodriguez Garcia home was fully engulfed, with flames coming out the windows and front door, when firefighters arrived minutes after the call came in around 1:38 p.m.

“It was a really old house with several layers of siding and a metal roof,” said Noel, who adds that the fire started on the north end of the house near the kitchen area.

“There was only one entrance to the home and the backside of the house was right up to the river. The lady was in the living room on the couch,” he said. “It was tough fire, the metal roof was over older roofing and that limited us to getting water into the structure.”

Noel said the Oroville Fire Department rolled two pumpers and a tender to the fire and they had 12 firefighters on the scene, but there was nothing they could do to rescue the owner.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Coroner’s Office, according to Noel, who suspects it could have been caused by older wiring.

Okanogan County Coroner David Rodriguez said, “Oroville Fire, EMS and law enforcement responded. At 14:54 (2:54 p.m.) fire crews were able to enter the structure where they found one confirmed deceased person.The residence was known to be occupied by Maria Rodriguez Garcia, age 77. Family members on scene confirmed.”

Rodriguez responded to the scene and took possession of the body for examination and positive identification, he said.

“The exam confirmed that the decedent was Maria Rodriguez Garcia and that the cause of death was smoke inhalation. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire,” he said.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.