Cause not yet determined for house fire that killed 10 relatives in Kentucky

Wednesday, February 7th 2007, 12:14 pm
By: News On 6

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (AP) _ A house fire that killed 10 relatives started near the front door and was not caused by the home's electrical or heating systems, investigators said Wednesday.

Investigators trying to determine a cause to Tuesday's fire still are checking whether the home's furnace was working properly and if any gas lines had leaks. They also have not ruled out a link to smoking, as several adults among the victims were regular smokers.

An explosion reported by witnesses did not ignite the blaze, said Rob Goodwin, chief deputy state fire marshal.

``It was probably a collapse that released fire into an area of the house,'' he said. ``It may have sounded like a small explosion.''

Investigators had only charred remnants of a house to examine for clues. On Wednesday morning, they shoveled pieces of walls, ceiling, furniture and clothing from the house, which the fire stripped down to the studs.

The blaze was Kentucky's deadliest building fire since the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in northern Kentucky in 1977 killed 165 people, Goodwin said.

Authorities have not identified the victims, but Janet Tonge said her sister, Sherry Maddox, was among the dead, as was Maddox's boyfriend, Johnny Litsey, two of Maddox's daughters and six of her grandchildren.

Identifying the bodies could take several days, said Dr. Tracy Corey, the state medical examiner.

Bardstown Fire Chief Anthony Mattingly said one survivor, identified by a neighbor as Darrell Maddox, was in stable condition at University of Louisville Hospital. Mattingly said investigators have not been able to speak to him.

Sherry Maddox's niece, Stephanie Walls, said Wednesday that the family plans to have one funeral for all 10 family members killed in the fire.

``Everybody's going to leave all together,'' Walls said. ``That's the way it should be.''