An electrical failure exacerbated by a dried-out Christmas tree was the likely culprit for a house fire on January 19 that reached untenable conditions, killing two grandparents and four children ranging in age from six to eight years old.
The Washington Post reports that a faulty electrical outlet supplying power to lights on the 15-foot tree likely sparked the blaze in the home. “This fire was the result of a tragic accident that occurred at the absolutely worst possible time: while [Don and Sandra Pyle] and their grandchildren were sleeping,” Bill McMullan, who heads the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives office in Baltimore, told the paper. According to NFPA's latest "Fire Loss in the United States" report, electrical distribution or lighting equipment is the fourth leading cause of home fires. Moreover, one out of every 40 reported home fires that begin with a Christmas tree result in death, per NFPA.
In a statement to the press, the victims' family offered these words: "Our hope is that our loss will raise awareness that this tragic event could happen to any family."
The tragedy is also shining a light on home fire sprinklers. For more on this story, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.