Cause of Feb. 15 fatal house fire is still unknown
TOWANDA - Investigators don't know what started the Feb. 15 house fire in Towanda that claimed the life of 2-year-old John David Yoder III, the Towanda police chief said on Friday.
State Police Fire Marshal Timothy Young is ruling that the cause of the fire is "undetermined," Towanda Police Chief Randy Epler said on Friday.
Investigators don't know whether the fire started accidentally or was deliberately set, Epler said.
The fire started outside the house, underneath the house's carport, Epler said.
The carport is attached to the north side of the house, located in the 100 block of North Fourth Street, Epler said.
"It (the fire) broke into the building. Whether it was through a door or a window, I don't know how it actually entered (the house)," Epler said.
The fire gutted the two-story brick home.
Yoder died at the scene while sleeping, as a result of smoke inhalation, Bradford County Coroner Thomas Carman has said.
According to Carman, all four occupants of the house were sleeping when the fire broke out.
Yoder's parents, 32-year-old John D. Yoder II and 28-year-old Amber J. Yoder, were unsuccessful in retrieving him from his bedroom, the coroner said.
John Yoder II and Amber Yoder, along with their infant son Sawyer Yoder, all escaped from the residence and were treated and released from Memorial Hospital.
"There were no eyewitnesses who saw anything until the fire had progressed extensively," the police chief said.
The fire was reported at 11:59 p.m., the coroner said.
Underneath the carport were two cars, which burned during the fire. Burning components of the vehicles - including rubber tires, plastic components of the vehicles, and gasoline inside the vehicles - would have all fueled the fire, Epler said.
The Towanda Police's investigation into the fire remains open, the police chief said.
Anyone who has information related to the fire is encouraged to contact the Towanda police at (570) 265-2522, Chief Epler said.
State police fire marshals assisted the Towanda police in their investigation of the fire, Young said. Information about the fire will be released by the Towanda police, he said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.