Washington Tow Truck Driver Dies in House Fire

Nov 30th, 2010 | By | Category: National News

A Washington tow truck driver was found dead in his home Saturday night, Nov. 27, after firefighters responded to a call that smoke was coming from the home, according to a news report.

Anthony Poortinga, 62, owner of Anthony’s Cheap Tow towing service in East Wenatchee, was found dead in his bedroom, where Fire Chief Chuck Fenton said it appeared he had awakened and attempted to make it to a window before being overcome with smoke. There were no smoke alarms in the home and Poortinga lived alone, the report states.

Firefighters responded to the scene at about 11:30 p.m., finding the house full of smoke. They put out a small fire and found Poortinga while searching and ventilating the house. The fire call came from an East Wenatchee Police officer. Fenton says that Poortinga had had a poor chance of making it, and said the lesson to be taken from this was that smoke detectors were critical, according to the news report.

The smoke started in a closet close to Poortinga’s bedroom. It’s likely an electrical short caused the fire, but Fenton said it’s impossible to say, the report states. Police confirmed the victim was Poortinga Sunday after notifying relatives. An autopsy will be made to determine the cause of death.

Poortinga lived in East Wenatchee since 1979. He was well known around the valley as owner of Anthony’s Cheap Tow, and could be seen wearing a cowboy hat, bandana, denim shirts and cowboy boots, the report states. When he wasn’t towing he could be found in one of his trucks reading a paperback mystery book or in a local café. His favorite places were Jimmy’s Diner on the Eastide, and Denny’s and Smitty’s in Wenatchee, according to the news report.

Poortinga started Anthony’s Cheap Tow in 2004 after retiring from a career as a private contractor installing power and telephone poles throughout the Northwest. In a 2005 Wenatchee article, Poortinga said that he started the towing business because his previous career had kept him on the road all the time and made it difficult to make friends, the report states.

He started out with a pickup and flatbed trailer that he used to transport racecars, and then added the towing service, gradually adding more vehicles. In the past article, he said the business didn’t make him a lot of money, but he loved it because it gave him a chance to help people and make friends, according to the report.