Man who died in Wallingford fire identified, faced arson charge in 2019

Sep 5, 2023, 6:43 PM

Wallingford fire...

Authorities found two adults and two children dead after a fire destroyed a house in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

The King County Medical Examiner on Tuesday identified one of the four people found dead after a weekend house fire in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

Salvatore Ragusa, 48, died from smoke inhalation and his death was ruled a suicide, the medical examiner reported. The names of the woman and two children whose bodies were also found in the home have not yet been released.

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Just before 9 a.m. Saturday morning, an 11-year-old girl escaped the home in the 1000 block of North 48th Street through a window and fled to a neighbor’s house. According to the Seattle Police Department (SPD), residents called 911 and reported someone had died in the home and it was on fire.

The first police officers on the scene tried to force their way in, but found the door barricaded from the inside. Seattle fire crews battled flames for around 45 minutes before discovering the bodies of four people and a dog.

Initial reports indicated someone may have fired a gun around the time the fire started, but police haven’t confirmed whether there was a shooting or if officers found guns inside the North Seattle house, located two blocks south of Woodland Park.

More on the suspect

King County District Court records indicated Ragusa was arrested on suspicion of arson in 2019. A police report stated officers had to respond to a call of a suicidal man at 708 6th Avenue North, leading them to find Ragusa on the roof of an apartment building with a thick rope tied around his neck.

“After speaking with Ragusa for approximately 20 minutes, officers heard the building fire alarm,” the 2019 police report states. The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) responded, finding “the door was locked and (SFD) had to force open the door … they found there had been a fire on the kitchen counter.”

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According to police, the 2019 fire was inside an apartment leased to Ragusa’s ex-wife and their two children. He was taken into custody.

Seattle police have not confirmed if Stewart or the children referenced in the 2019 police report are connected to the deadly house fire in Wallingford.

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