Joe Lindell, whose house burned to the ground early Saturday morning, died suddenly Sunday on his way to a doctor's appointment. He was 76 years old.
Lindell's daughter, Cindy Lindell Simmons, said he had cancer and was going through chemotherapy when he died.
"He was weak at the time of the fire, and it was very hard on him," Simmons said.
Lindell and his wife, Sandra, were in bed at their home at 2306 N. E. Lindell Lane in Pendleton when the sound of breaking glass, and the barking of their dog, woke them up. A fire had mysteriously started in their attached pool house and smoke was pouring into the main house. The Lindells escaped unharmed, but with little more than what they were wearing.
When firefighters arrived shortly after midnight, the pool house was completely engulfed in flames, and the house was about half gone. The fire also spread to the Lindells' nearby business, Lindell Auto Salvage and Towing. About a dozen cars in the lot burned. The fire eventually destroyed the entire house.
The couple were able to save their motor home, which was parked next to the house so they could pack for a trip.
Simmons said that on Sunday, her brother, David, began driving their father to a doctor's appointment in Seattle. They were on Interstate 84 between Pendleton and Hermiston when David realized his father had died.
"He just stopped breathing," Simmons said.
The Lindell family will hold funeral services Saturday at 10 a.m. in Burns Mortuary Chapel in Pendleton.