Maryland probe may take days to determine if family died in mansion fire

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2015 1:54 PM

(Reuters) - It could take several days for investigators in Maryland to confirm whether a family of six died when a massive blazed ripped through their waterfront mansion on Monday, fire officials said Tuesday.

Fire officials said they could not confirm whether a technology executive and five members of his family were at home at the time of the blaze in Annapolis. The severe damage has also left the large home unstable, slowing the search process, Anne Arundel Fire Department spokesman Russ Davies said.

The first, second and third floors of the 16,000-square-foot home collapsed into the basement as a result of the blaze, Davies said. Relatives of the missing family said they were last seen in the home, he added.

The home belonged to Don Pyle, chief operating officer of privately held technology company ScienceLogic, the company's chief technology officer Antonio Piraino said in an email. The smoldering remains of the home are being treated as a crime scene, said Anne Arundel Fire Captain Robert Howarth.

"That doesn't mean that a crime has been committed," Howarth told reporters. "What that means is that we are processing the scene and conducting ourselves in a manner that should we find that a crime has been committed we can be sure that everything we have done up to that point is valid and sustainable in a court of law."

The fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. on the second floor of multimillion-dollar mansion on the waterfront in Annapolis, about 30 miles east of Washington.

More than 80 firefighters battled the blaze, which was under control by 7 a.m., Davies said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sent an investigative team to the site due to the large size of the fire and presumed fatalities, said David Cheplak, a spokesman for ATF's Baltimore field office.

(Reporting by John Clarke in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)