A Umatilla couple died inside their burning home on Sunday evening in what appeared to be an accidental fire.

Roger Frances, 67, and Ruth Frances, 68, were found deceased inside the home they owned at 125 John Day St. The fire is under investigation, but a news release from the Umatilla Police Department stated it “is believed that this is no more than a tragic accident.”

Umatilla Rural Fire District and Umatilla Police Department responded to a 911 call about the fire at 5 p.m. Sunday. Upon entering the residence personnel found the couple, who were declared deceased on scene.

The news release stated that fire damage to the building was minimal but it sustained “significant” heat and smoke damage. Oregon State Fire Marshal, Hermiston Police Department and Umatilla County Fire District are assisting with the investigation.

Roger Frances previously worked as Umatilla’s public works superintendent for 25 years, retiring in 2013.


Reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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