Authorities say cause of fatal fire is unknown - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Authorities say cause of fatal fire is unknown

Courtesy Dwayne Jones Courtesy Dwayne Jones

Investigators believe a weekend house fire in which five children and two adults died was an accident, but they don't know how it started, the Memphis Fire Department said Monday.

"Sometimes when you have that amount of fire, you can't determine (a cause)," Fire Lt. Keith Staples said. "It has been ruled undetermined."

The fire broke out about 5:30 a.m. Saturday and ravaged a two-story brick and wood-frame residence in a low-income, inner-city neighborhood. The fire destroyed the top floor, brought down the roof and gutted the rest of the house.

While investigators could not pinpoint the cause of the fire, Staples said, they found no evidence that it was started intentionally.

"We don't have any indication to believe that," he said.

But family members have a theory.  Stanley Crawford said he believes the fire started because of electrical problems throughout the house.

"I've been calling," he said. "Called the office several times.  I've been telling the person that come pick up the rent."

Crawford said some of his electrical outlets don't work.  He runs electrical cords from outlets that do to spaces in need.  He said the apartment behind his - 862 Baltimore - was no different.

"Yeah, it was something similar," he said.  "She didn't have but to sockets working, I think."

Action News 5 visited the company that rented the house to the Poole family, but no one would comment.  A clerk there said the owner is out of town.

Two teenagers and an 11-year-old boy managed to escape from the burning residence, suffering non-critical burns and smoke inhalation.

A medical examiner's report identifying the victims and the causes of their deaths was still pending.

Relatives identified family members who were in the house when it burned: Melissa Poole, 38; four of her children, Deon Poole, 18, Diamond Poole, 9, Dajanique Poole, 7, and DaShaun Poole, 5; and a niece and a nephew, Arianna Poole, 4, and Rodney Poole, 1.

The niece and nephew were visiting overnight when the fire broke out, relatives said. The other children lived at the residence with their mother.

Staples said investigators could not determine, because of the fire damage, if the house had a smoke detector.

"Fire crews will be out in that area going door to door checking to see if people have working smoke detectors," he said.

"If they don't, we'll be installing them free of charge."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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