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Fatal car fire ruled accidental

fatal car fire by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--The Nov. 9 car fire which claimed the life of former Woodinville resident and 1992 Redmond High graduate Anthony Jerome Rice, 22, has been ruled by the Fire Marshal's Office as accidental, his body found in the back seat, not in the front seat, as has been reported.
   The fire occurred in the driveway of a home in the 13700 block of 180th Avenue NE, the home of a friend of the victim, and was reported by neighbors at 2:45 a.m. Firefighters arrived at the scene and found the 1987 Toyota utility vehicle engulfed in flames in the driveway.
   Piecing together the events leading up to the incident, investigators said that after an evening of drinking at a local bar, the resident, a 12-year friend of Rice's, returned home and went to bed. Rice was later dropped off after being at the bar and indicated he might sleep in the vehicle in the driveway, starting the vehicle to warm it up.
   Investigators determined that Rice fell asleep in the back seat of the car while the engine continued to rev, eventually overheating and igniting a fire in the engine compartment, which spread into the passenger compartment, taking his life. Part of the accelerator cable was found melted and may be partly responsible for the accident.
   "He was a real quiet, real shy kind of guy," said his 21-year-old brother, Ben. "Sometimes the most you could get out of him was a 'yep' or a 'nope.'" Ben said his brother loved the outdoors, spending his free time hunting, fishing, camping, snowboarding, and skiing, "you name it."
   About a year ago, Anthony Rice had started a construction company with a good friend, and the business had been doing well when the accident happened.
   "He was just a great guy," Ben added. "He's greatly missed."