Officials: Pa. Blaze that Killed Six is Accidental

July 05--A Mother's Day fire that killed six people, including four children, appears to be accidental, Pottsville Fire Chief Todd March said.

March issued a statement Thursday following a near two-month investigation into the May 12 blaze at 235 Pierce St.

He said findings by the Pottsville fire and police departments along with state police indicated the accidental fire originated just before midnight in the second floor kitchen area of the home.

It then spread up the stairs to the third floor, where all six victims were found.

"From physical evidence and lab results there is absolutely nothing to indicate that any intentional acts contributed to this tragedy," March said. "But as always, the investigation could be reopened pending any future information and/or evidence that may become available."

Eric C. Brown, 30; his sister-in-law Kristina Thomas, 26; and Brown's children Joy, 8; Jeremiah, 7; Emily, 3; and Elijah, 2, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by smoke inhalation, according to Schuylkill County Coroner David Moylan.

Kelly Brown, 28, Eric Brown's wife and the mother of the four children, was doing laundry at a friend's house across the street when the fire broke out and was not hurt.

The blaze appeared to have started on the kitchen floor, March said, and there was no problem with the wood stove or chimney that would have caused the fire.

Officials said the home didn't have working smoke detectors, and March said that "could have made a difference."

The fire is believed to be the deadliest in the city's history.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Copyright 2013 - Reading Eagle, Pa.

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