Authorities in Maryland are investigating a fatal house fire that killed one adult and two children.
According to the Herald-Mail, three people were killed in the blaze in Hagerstown last week. The fire also left two people hospitalized. In a press released obtained by the newspaper, police identified the victims as Rodney Francis Brady Jr., 36; Hailie Elizabeth Conte Smith, 16; and Tarin Lei Mae Durham, 12.
The relationship between the deceased victims is not yet known, and authorities have not yet released the identities of the two people who were injured.
Hagerstown Fire Chief Steve Lohr told the news station that the wood frame home was engulfed in flames from “top to bottom” when the fire department arrived on the evening of February 24. Officials said in a press release obtained by the Herald-Mail that the fire had “an unusual head start” before emergency responders were aware of the situation.
Hagerstown city spokesperson Wes Decker told the Herald-Mail that investigators believe the fire was burning for an unspecified amount of time before the first 911 report was made. Decker said firefighters were on the scene two minutes after the call. As the press release states, investigators were able to determine the delay in reporting based on time stamps of photos and videos that witnesses sent authorities who are investigating the cause of the fire.
“It’s a situation that’s frustrating obviously,” Decker said.
Fire officials are now cautioning anyone who witnesses a fire to call 911 immediately, before taking any photos or video. Still, the fire department continues to witnesses to come forward with any possible evidence that could help the investigation.
According to the report, investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire, and found that at least one of the smoke alarms in the home was not working at the time of the tragedy.
It is unclear if investigators suspect arson or any other type of foul play, or if they have determined how long the fire was burning before witnesses called 911.
This is a developing story. CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.