It was a scene from hades for onlookers and firefighters alike — a 16,000 square foot mansion on the waterfront of Annapolis, Maryland, burning to the ground in the middle of the night. It took firefighters hours to extinguish and more hours until it was safe enough to search for the six individuals believed to be staying there at the time of the fire. The structure eventually collapsed during the blaze, making the search for remains all the more difficult.
The missing included grandparents Don and Sandy Pyle, the owners of the mansion, along with four of their grandchildren, three girls and a boy.
Charlotte Boone, 8, wanted to be known as a gamer, and she loved making videos with her pet guinea pig, Oreo, according to statements released by a family friend, Toni Aluisi of Washington. Her 6-year-old brother, Wesley “Wes” Boone, wanted to build robots and “looked up to his older sister immensely.” Their cousins, sisters Alexis “Lexi” Boone, 8, and Kaitlyn “Katie” Boone, 7, were a year apart but looked more like twins — frequently dressing alike and both with pale blond hair and bright blue eyes. Lexi was sure she would be famous one day; Katie loved Taylor Swift with a passion.
Authorities have not said which body still remains unaccounted for, but all six are assumed dead. All of the bodies are being taken to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Baltimore, Maryland. The fire has been deemed suspicious in nature.
The mansion was valued at $6 million and was affectionately called “The Castle” in Annapolis.
Family members, in shock and mourning, struggle to come to terms with the fact that the occupants inside are truly dead and didn’t make it out. One couple lost their only children, but the other couple still has a baby son, born only three weeks ago and not in the mansion at the time of the fire.
The family was described as close and loving, with Don and Sandy Pyle being prominent people in Annapolis, known for their kindness, generosity, and love for the grandchildren they perished alongside. They were frequently involved in the grandchildren’s lives, hosting sleepovers and attending sports events.
The search will continue through the weekend for the missing person, although impending snow this weekend could hamper that effort. Cadaver dogs continue to assist with the effort, and it is unclear where in the mansion the bodies were located. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.