PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) - A 2-year-old boy killed in a New Year's
Day fire that destroyed his family's Ponca City home died of smoke
inhalation, authorities said Thursday.
Dakota Levi Cowan was sleeping on a chair in the home's living
room, officials said. The fire started at or near the living room
floor furnace, said Jimmy Green of the state fire marshal's office.
Investigators aren't sure whether the furnace or something else
caused the blaze.
"We will have some experts come in and see if the floor furnace
malfunctioned," Fire Chief Gary Denny said.
Denny said a basket of clothes and loose clothing were near the
furnace.
"Were they close enough to catch fire? We're not sure yet," he
said.
Cowan's mother, Lori Cowan, 24, and Bobby Holladay, 33, were
asleep in another room in the rear of the house when the fire broke
out, officials said.
The blaze separated the boy from his mother and Holladay and
prevented them from reaching him. They were able to escape by
breaking out a window.
Both were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and
released.
Denny said there were no smoke detectors in the house, despite
recent efforts by the city to raise awareness about smoke detectors
and give them away to people who don't have them.
"It was just a year ago that we canvassed the whole city,"
Denny said. "How this residence didn't get one or just slipped
through, we don't know."
The fire was reported by neighbors at about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday.
Denny said one caller told firefighters that he saw the home's
front windows "glowing orange," meaning the fire had already
consumed much of the home.
The fire caused about $55,000 in damage, and the house was a
total loss, fire officials said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)