UPDATE January 29, 2015
Investigators confirmed an electrical failure led to the Christmas tree igniting on Jan. 19. The mansion was owned by Sandra and Don Pyle, who is an executive with a technology company.
Something the Pyles loved to do — extend Christmas for their grandchildren — is now being blamed for their deaths. Sources close to the investigation told the 11 News I-Team that Sandy Pyle was known to keep her Christmas tree up long after Christmas. Investigators believe the tree’s lights caused the fire.
Investigators believe the Pyles left their tree “lit most of the time.” Investigators said that the fire started in the great room of the house and that the 15-foot tree was in an area with 19-foot ceilings. Officials said smoke detectors were working but the bedrooms all connect to the same area where the tree was, and dry Christmas trees burn fast, so it was likely that escape areas were blocked.
Tech tycoon, Don Pyle, 56, his wife Sandra and their four grandchildren Lexi Boone, Katie Boone, Charlotte Boone and Wes Boone, were killed after a devastating blaze ripped through their 16,000 sq.ft. Annapolis mansion early Monday morning.
Not only was Don the COO of ScienceLogic, a company which regularly conducts business with the military and intelligence communities and which monitored the online networks for both the Department of Defense and the FBI (among others), but he was also CEO at Netcordia, another IT company which has contracted with both the National Security Agency and U.S. Army to manage their online networks. He had just taken the position at ScienceLogic in October.
The blaze consumed the entire home at an alarming rate. Criminal investigators pored over the ruins of the house for any signs the blaze could have been arson. Specialists with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives now say the fire is ‘suspicious’ partly because of how quickly it ravaged the home.
The Anne Arundel County Fire Department said fire crews had difficulty knocking down the blaze because the house is secluded, apparently with no fire hydrants on the scene.
The fire department hoses had to be stretched for long distances to reach the house. It took several hours for fire department tanker trucks and a fire boat on an adjacent creek to bring the fire under control.
Fire officials and agents with the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, began searching what is left of the 16,000-square-foot home on Childs Point Road using cadaver dogs which detected some remains around midday Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the remains of two bodies were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for identification, said county fire department spokesman Capt. Russ Davies. Four people remain unaccounted for.
The fire department, which has 25 to 30 personnel at the scene, is being assisted by the National Response Team for the ATF. The ATF has 15 to 20 agents, plus support staff, at the scene, Davies said.
Because of the size of the house and the amount of debris, the investigation will take a long time.