January 28, 2015
Annapolis Mansion Fire: Fire That Killed Couple, 4 Grandchildren Was Caused By Large Dry Christmas Tree

The devastating mansion fire in Annapolis, Maryland, left many wondering if foul play could have been the source of the fire. However, following a thorough review of the scene, fire officials have determined that the blaze was started by an electrical failure and fueled by a 15-foot, dry Christmas tree in the room.

The Baltimore Sun reports that grandparents Don and Sandra Pyle had a fun-filled day with their four grandchildren the day of the fire. Lexi, Katie, Charlotte, and Wes Boone had spent the entire day with their grandparents, enjoying a dinner at the Medieval Times before heading back to the Pyle's Annapolis mansion for a sleepover. Unfortunately, at around 3:30 a.m. on the morning of the sleepover, first responders started receiving calls of a fire at the Pyle's mansion. The first call came from the Pyles' home security company. The Baltimore Sun reports that the first firefighters arrived on the scene within two minutes. However, upon arrival, the house was fully immersed in flames and the smoke prevented firefighters from entering the property. Instead, they would be forced to battle the blaze from afar.

The fire spread so rapidly that fire officials were sure to use crime scene procedures when processing the blaze. However, no foul play was found. Instead, the culprit was faulty electrical wires and a large Christmas tree. According to the Daily Mail, fire officials have reported that "an electrical failure in the mansion's 'Great Room' which was connected to the sleeping and living areas sparked the January 19 blaze which was fueled by the tree."

The report indicates that a large 15-foot Christmas tree was in the Great Room where the fire began. The tree had been cut down some 60 days prior to the blaze, so it was very dry. The large tree fueled the blaze, causing the fire to sweep through the mansion quickly.

Fire crews were finally able to retrieve the sixth and final body from the mansion on Monday. The Pyle and Boone families released the following joint statement after the outpouring of support in the community.

"On behalf of the Boone and Pyle families, we wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for the love and support being shared with us during this tragic event. We are blessed that so many family, friends, and neighbors have come together for us in our time of need. We recognize the dedicated efforts from Anne Arundel County Fire and Police Departments, the Naval Academy, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and other first responders. We want our community to know how proud we are of all who have helped us. Our love for our family is boundless. Our loss demands time and quiet reflection to process these feelings. We ask that you respect our need for privacy. Life is fragile. Take time today to embrace your loved ones."