Explosion, fatal house fire in Tempe ruled ‘not accidental’
PHOENIX – Authorities in Tempe said Friday an explosive house fire where two women were found dead this week was not accidental but stopped short of any other conclusions.
Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Assistant Chief Andrea Glass told KTAR News 92.3 FM the women’s cause of death was not yet determined.
“All we can speak to is that we do know an accelerant was used. We don’t have motive, we don’t have intent, so that’s why we claim it as not accidental,” she said.
“Because we also want to be respectful and mindful of the family because we just don’t know the circumstances and there’s a good likelihood we’re never going to know the circumstances of this fire, how it really started,” Glass said.
Tempe Fire Medical and Rescue investigators said a K-9 sniffed out accelerants at the gutted remains of the home near Southern Avenue and Priest Drive after the fire was extinguished Monday.
The type of accelerant is unknown pending lab results, but Zeta, a specially-trained arson dog with Gilbert Fire and Medical, can detect six classifications of ignitable liquids, her handler said.
Fire officials said they ruled out natural gas as a cause for the explosion early in their inquiry. Witnesses said they heard a blast shortly before the home began to burn around 1:30 a.m.
By the time firefighters reached the house it was swallowed in flames, they said.
Investigators said police recovered video from around the neighborhood. Based on that, it was determined that no one else was around the house during the time frame before the eruption.
Items recovered from the blaze are being examined at a lab, fire officials said.
Names of the two women have not been released.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.