Police ID four people from Portland, Springfield who died in New - KPTV - FOX 12

Police ID four people from Portland, Springfield who died in Newport motel fire

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City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV) City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV)
City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV) City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV)
City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV) City Center Motel fire in Newport. (Image: KPTV)

Two people from Portland and two people from Springfield died in a motel fire in Newport, investigators said Monday.

The fire started at the City Center Motel on Highway 101 at around 5:48 a.m. Friday.

Firefighters evacuated the motel and said everyone was accounted for, except the occupants of two rooms.

Hours after putting out the fire, crews located the bodies of four people beneath the burned rubble.

Investigators said rooms 220 and 221 had become engulfed in flames, blocking the entrances and exits of each room.

As the fire spread, the second floor collapsed onto the first floor.

The people who died were identified Monday as Allen Arthur Hepner, 63, and Tammi Sue Hepner, 51, both of Portland, and Danny Keith Shoemaker, 64, and Sandra Sue Shoemaker, 60, both of Springfield.

Police said the preliminary investigation shows the Hepners and Shoemakers died from causes related to the fire.

On a GoFundMe page, family members said the Hepners honeymooned on the Oregon coast 25 years ago and were in Newport for a romantic weekend when they died in the blaze, adding that the couple was found holding each other.

Neighbors and friends were stunned to hear of the deaths, describing Tammi and an outgoing woman who loved to bake while noting Allen was a romantic whose last Facebook post read “Why settle for a love song? Wait for the symphony.”

Family members said the Hepner's were originally from Eugene and had six children and nine grandchildren. Allen was an Army veteran and Tammi went back to school to earn her culinary degree in 2010.

The Hepner family released a statement Monday. It said: 

We would like to thank the community for their outpouring of support and prayers, including the efforts to bring our sister home from her peace corps service overseas. Our parents, Allen and Tammi Hepner, touched many lives with their kindness, generosity, love and humor. We would also like to thank all first responders with special thanks to the Newport Police (especially officers Rick Auborn (sp?) and Keith (I do not have his last name). The gentlemen were amazing and compassionate during a very terrible time in our lives. We appreciate the continued outpouring of support from the local and worldwide communities but do ask that our privacy be respected while we work through this tragedy as a family. Allen and Tammi were amazing, kind souls. They were funny and loving. They could be counted on to be a listening ear or a giving heart. We shall miss them terribly. 

Investigators said the fire was determined to have started in room 103 on the ground floor. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

Police said smoke detector operation is also under investigation at this time.

The investigation is being conducted by the Newport Police Department and Newport Fire Department, with assistance from the State of Oregon Fire Marshal's Office.

Four other motel guests were taken to the hospital. Three had minor injuries, while the fourth suffered burns and smoke inhalation and was transferred to a Portland hospital for further treatment.

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