'I heard my son's last breaths,' says survivor of Washington house fire that killed family

KING 5's Ryan Takeo reports

Donald Simpson is trying to find answers to what caused his Port Orchard home to catch fire Saturday that later killed his wife, son, and two grandchildren.

“Yesterday was a hard day,” Simpson said Sunday, surrounded by family, including his grandchildren's mother, Victoria Cohen.

Simpson said he was home in bed with his wife of 40 years, Vili. His son Merle, and grandchildren, two-year-old Madison and one-year-old Collin, were also staying at Simpson's home for the weekend.

Merle was the first to alert Simpson and his wife to the fire.

“I jumped out of bed, yelling at my wife, told her, 'Vili. Let’s go. Get out. The house is on fire.' I thought she was right behind me." Simpson said. “I went to find a path, see if the fire was blocking our exit and I went down the stairs. The smoke was heavy. Looked upstairs, yelled at my son. I said, 'Come on.' He said, ‘I can’t. I can’t.’”

Simpson said he exited the house hoping to catch his grandkids trying to escape the fire, but they never came out.

“This is just my assumption that my wife -- since I didn’t see her -- she was overcome by smoke. Since I heard no crying of the babies, that they were overcome by smoke and then I heard my son’s last breaths.”

Victoria Coen is the mother of Simpson’s grandchildren.

“When I listened to the voicemail, it was my father-in-law, and he told me that there was a tragic accident,” Coen said on Sunday while visiting the what was left of Simpson’s home. “Collin and Madison were my whole world. I lived for them.”

She recounted Madison being able to count to 15 the day before the fire. She was a proud mom.

Donald Simpson said he called his grandson "Bam Bam" because he was so strong.

Coen said Vili Simpson loved shopping and cooking the Filipino dish lumpia. Donald Simpson said he and his wife found joy spoiling their grandchildren.

Simpson said his son stopped being in the food industry so he could devote more time to his children.

"I just don't want people to forget them because they were all beautiful and good people," said Coen.

She later explained she and Merle were separated, but she was still very close with his family.

“I’ve called him dad since the second time I met him," Coen said as she glanced at Simpson. "I’m so happy that at least one of them is here. I still have a Simpson."

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Sunday.

The family has set up a Go Fund Me account to help pay for funeral services.

© 2017 KING-TV


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