LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A fire that killed two adults and five children this month in southern Kentucky burned so hot they are unable to determine its cause, investigators told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
State Fire Marshal spokesman Dick Brown and Kentucky State Trooper Shane Jacobs said arson investigators weren’t able to find the exact cause of the March 9 fire and, because of extreme damage to the house, are unlikely to come to a final determination.
Brown said, however, that the fire was accidental and investigators had ruled out arson and foul play. Brown said State Police and Fire Marshal investigators found no evidence that would suggest arson.
“The investigation was able to determine the area where the fire originated but has been unable to determine the source of ignition,” Brown said. “We have no reason to believe nor can we substantiate that the fire was internationally started.”
Jacobs said it appears the blaze burned so hot, little evidence was left behind. “That’s the problem, I think,” he said.
The fire killed 27-year-old Jesse Disney; his fiancee, 22-year-old Nina Asher; her three children, 3-year-old William Gray Jr., 2-year-old Camden Gray and 8-month-old Abigail Gray; and family friends who were staying over, 2-year-old Paiten Cox and 2-year-old Brielle Cox.
Officials said all seven died from smoke inhalation.
Attempts to reach members of Disney’s family were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon. Two listed phone numbers for Asher’s family were disconnected Wednesday. The father of the Cox children, Garfield Cox, could not be located Wednesday.
In the days after the fire, charred photos, books, children’s art, broken glass and pieces of the collapsed roof littered the lawn outside the house near Disney’s relatives.
The home in Gray, near the city of Corbin, sat off a narrow road near where much of Disney’s family lives. The rural area is populated with brick homes, trailers and small farms.
The area is home to so many family members that it’s nicknamed “Disneyland.”
The blaze shook the rural community in the foothills of Appalachia near the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Tennessee and Virginia state lines. Customers of the J&G Market, just up the road from where the fire took place, made donations to offset the funeral costs into a white bucket that once carried pieces of bubble gum.
Amy Weddle, 26, a clerk at the store and friend of the Disney family, said Wednesday that she was disappointed in the inconclusive results of the investigation. But, Weddle said, the community contributed enough to help pay for all the funerals.
“We even got them tombstones,” Weddle said. “We were able to do that for them.”
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