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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Electric burners that were left on appear to the be the cause of a fire that killed a mother and two of her children last month.
Logan Fire Chief Mark Meaker said all four burners appeared to have been randomly set to different levels prior to the fire, saying it was likely one of the children who died in the fire had turned on the burners.
Christina Lee Ward, 26, and two of her children, Dalton Ray James Ward, 4, and Mackenzie Brooke Ward, 2, were killed in the Jan. 19 apartment fire.
A family friend who was staying overnight in the apartment escaped. The children's father was at work and two siblings were already at school.
A cookie sheet and some pans were stacked on top of one of the burners. The heat from the stove was intensified by the cookie sheet, causing grease under the burners to catch fire.
"It superheated the grease buildup on the stove, causing that to catch fire and then the fire rolls out from underneath the pan, catches the countertops on fire, gets up into the hood and catches that on fire because that's where the grease collects," Meaker said. "That is typically how it would spread."
"My feeling on the matter is it was probably the children," Meaker said. "It was all kind of random in nature."
Meaker said although he couldn't be certain one of the children turned on the burners, it didn't appear the stove was being used to cook or heat the apartment.
"If I were going to turn on the burners to warm up the house, I would turn all the burners on high," he said.
Last month, investigators determined the fire was not arson.
There were smoke detectors in all four of the apartments in the building, but they didn't have batteries.
Meaker said the outcome of the fire likely would have been different if the apartments had working smoke detectors.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)