Cause of Fatal Fire Undetermined

By: Muriel Bailey Email
By: Muriel Bailey Email

DOTHAN, AL---Caution tape still stands, as toys and a memorial lay in the front yard of what's left of the charred home where 4-year-old Byron and 1-year-old Ariel Harvey lived.

Investigators say they were able to determine where the fire started through the burn pattern.

"That was located under the car port area," said Dothan Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Chris Etheredge.

However, investigators had a hard time finding the cause of the fire.

"Due to the extent of the fire and the materials that are first ignited which are what we look for being completely consumed by the amount of fire that was there, we have to leave the case as what's called undetermined," said Ethredge.

What that means is, investigators can't determine what exactly started the fire.

"We can't say it's arson, which means it was started by someone and we can't say it was accidental because there's no evidence to show exactly what started it," explained Ethredge.

Within the past few days family friends and residents have created a memorial to remember the children. There's flowers, balloons and even teddy bears.

The three survivors 30-year-old Melissa Harvey, 30 year-old Jermaine Harvey and 59-year-old Leonard Harvey, who investigators say are the children's mother, father and grandfather are said to be recovering.

"All three are making great strides in their health and are hoping to be released in the next couple of days," added Ethredge.

Local Red Cross officials say it's situations like these that make community involvement important.

"When donations are made to the red cross, generally our biggest expense here is when were serving families who have had housing fires, that is our largest single disaster throughout the country every year we respond to about 70, 000 of them, we respond to about 200 of them in the five counties that we serve here in southeast Alabama," said Susan Holmes.

Through those donations they make sure the families have a safe place to stay, Food and clothing.

For now fire officials say their main goal is to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again in the community.

"We do understand that bad things are going to happen no matter what we do from an education stand point but knowing that every home in the city of Dothan has a working smoke detector helps us to sleep a little better at night because we know that increases your chances of surviving a home fire," said Ethredge.

Fire officials say the home did have two smoke detectors but the victims say they can't remember hearing if they went off or not.

Investigators say leaving the case undetermined gives them the opportunity to put more resolution to the case if a witness or more information was to eventually come forward.

Funeral arrangements have not been made yet.

The children were not insured and an account has been set up to help pay for funeral expenses.

You can donate to any Wells Fargo Bank in the name of Roger and Shelley Slater, their grandparents.


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