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Christmas Morning Fire Kills Two

December 25, 1995

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Fire gutted a Russian immigrant family’s wood-frame home, killing a woman and her teen-age son and injuring seven other family members early Christmas morning.

Firefighters said Leonid Kernachitsky, 47, handed one child out a window to a neighbor, Troy Harvey, who then helped the father to safety. Kernachitsky hospitalized along with three of his children. His wife, Valentina, and her son Vitaly, 19, died, the medical examiner’s office said.

The injured children ranged in age from 17 years to 19 months, Fire Bureau spokesman Rob Ware said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

A neighbor, Archie Dickenson, said that when the sound of fire engines woke him he looked outside and saw heavy smoke coming from the three-bedroom house.

``The whole thing is gutted,″ Dickenson said. ``It’s such a shame. Jiminy Christmas. It makes the whole neighborhood sad.″

Dickenson said the family had lived in the neighborhood about 2 1/2 years. Only the children spoke much English, but the family would wave and say ``Hi,″ he said.

Elsewhere around the nation:

_ A fire of unknown origin Christmas morning destroyed a row house in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn, killing Florian Teraskiewicz, 75, and his wife, Irene, 69.

_ An unidentified homeless person, possibly using a fire to keep warm under a bridge, burned to death in Tulsa, Okla. The blaze also destroyed telephone cables, knocking out service to up to 4,000 customers, police and Southwestern Bell officials said.

_ Volunteers in Boston spent Christmas helping nine families left homeless by a fierce early morning fire that also injured six firefighters, one seriously. Residents fled their apartment building in the city’s Brighton section through smoke-filled hallways and over ladders from rear porches and fire escapes. Damage was estimated at $500,000.

_ The death Monday of a 35-year-old man injured in a house fire Saturday in West Warwick, R.I., left 14-year-old Crystal Larocque the only survivor of the blaze that killed her parents, two brothers and a family friend.

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