Fire experts say evidence testing could impact fatal fire rulings

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FLORA, Ind. - Two months after a fire killed four young sisters in Flora, investigators with the state fire marshal's office said the fire was ruled intentional.

Initially, investigators said the fire was undetermined and that it started behind the fridge. Now, investigators said they found accelerants in several parts of the home.

Bargersville Fire Chief Eric Funkhouser isn't involved in this case, but explained what work goes into fatal fire investigations.

"The first thing we're trying to do is get the truth of what happened," said Funkhouser.

As soon as an investigation begins, fire crews are looking for evidence to determine not only where the fire started, but if someone set it or if it's accidental.

"The hard thing about fire investigations is that the fire destroys the evidence a lot of times, so you’re trying to sift through what you can to find the information to lead you to a determination," Funkhouser said.

The state fire marshal's office said accelerants were found in the home. To experts, that's a red flag that the fire was not accidental. The reason for the change in the ruling could be because officials might have been waiting on test results from a lab. Those tests could include materials from the home like carpet, furniture, and curtains.

"We’re looking for if they happened to use accelerants, could be different types of flammable liquids possibly. We can see on the floor where they poured that and we might have different burn patterns on the floor," said Funkhouser.

The fire marshal's office would not say where the fire started or how it started. They said it's still under investigation and that they're looking for suspects.

Anyone with information about the case should contact the Indiana State Arson Hotline at 1-800-382-4628. Callers may receive up to a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible.

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