Careless smoking caused fatal Newport motel fire

Grand jury found Rebecca Sinclair's actions to be negligent and reckless

Rebecca Sinclair, 38, is accused of starting a Newport motel fire that killed 4 people. (Newport Police Dept.)

NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — A Newport motel fire that killed 4 people in August 2016 started after a woman carelessly discarded smoking materials in her room, Newport Police Dept. revealed on Thursday.

Investigators determined the fire started in room 103, where 38-year-old Rebecca Sinclair was reportedly staying. Several people were injured, including Sinclair, who was hospitalized for burns and smoke inhalation.

After evacuating the building and putting out the flames, firefighters searched the motel and found 4 people dead in rooms 220 and 221, police confirmed.

A fire killed 4 people at the Newport City Center Motel, August 5, 2016 (Courtesy: Liliana Bodiou)
A fire killed 4 people at the Newport City Center Motel, August 5, 2016 (Courtesy: Liliana Bodiou)

The people killed in the fire were later identified as 51-year-old Tammi Sue Hepner and 63-year-old Allen Hepner of Portland and 60-year-old Sandra Shoemaker and 64-year-old Danny Shoemaker of Springfield.

Sinclair was identified as a person of interest in the case after investigators determined the fire started in her room. She was arrested in Washington on April 17 and later extradited to Lincoln County where she is currently jailed on $750,000 bail.

A Lincoln County Grand Jury found Sinclair’s actions to be negligent and reckless.

She is facing 4 counts of manslaughter, 4 counts of criminally negligent homicide, 7 counts of recklessly endangering another person and 1 count of reckless burning.