Six family members killed in a massive blaze that reduced a 16,000-square-foot riverfront mansion to ashes died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation, according to Maryland's medical examiner's office.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released its findings confirming the deaths were accidental on Monday. Don and Sandra Pyle and their four grandchildren were killed in the Jan. 19 fire near Annapolis, caused after an electric spark spread to a 15-foot Christmas tree.
The victims have been positively identified as Don Pyle, 56, Sandra Pyle, 63, and four of their grandchildren: sisters Alexis and Kaitlyn Boone, 8 and 7; and their cousins, siblings Charlotte and Wesley Boone, 8 and 6.
The children are survived by their parents, who weren't in the mansion at the time of the fire.
Investigators are working to determine how the fire traveled so fast and may have blocked escape routes.
The Christmas tree was located in the family's great room, which had 19-foot ceilings and was surrounded by sleeping and living areas. Reports indicate that the tree had been cut down more than 60 days before the fire Investigators recovered the tree stand and discovered an inch or two of fallen needles.
The home did not have a sprinkler system. A fire official said sprinklers would likely have made a difference, but the home was built in 2005, before a law was passed requiring them.