Christmas tree factor in Maryland mansion fire that killed six

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2015 12:32 PM

(Reuters) - A Maryland mansion fire that killed four children and two adults in January was caused by an electrical outlet that ignited a dry Christmas tree, investigators said on Wednesday.

The Jan. 19 fire at the 16,000-square-foot (1,490-square-meter) waterfront mansion in Annapolis killed technology company executive Don Pyle, his wife and four grandchildren, ages 6 to 8.

"A fire originating in or near the Christmas tree is the only reasonable explanation as to why this fire developed at the rate it did," according to the final report on the fire from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Christmas lights plugged into a power strip near the base of the tree were a key contributing factor, according to the report. The lights had been left on continuously for about six weeks, it said.

The fast-spreading fire caused $16 million to $18 million in damage to the mansion, it said.

(Reporting by John Clarke in Washington; Editing by Ian Simpson and Bill Trott)