A report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives calls the cause of the fatal Arlington Avenue house fire on March 24, 2012 "undetermined". The report does, however, shed new light on what happened inside the house the night several people were celebrating the birthday of Alisha Carter-Camp, one of the dead.
The fire killed Carter-Camp, 26, Keyana Camp, 8, Bryan Timothy Carter-Camp, 7, Jeremiah Camp, 3, Alex Seals, Kiki Seals, 3, Gigi Seals, 3, Elijah Scott, 3 and Emanual Jones, 18 months.
The fire, according to Charleston Fire Department investigators, began between 3:00 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. They believe the fire began in the front corner of the home, where the TV and several electronics were kept. Because the damage was so severe, they were unable to determine exactly what caused it. Investigators looked at electrical wiring as a potential cause, but no signs of "overcurrent" were found in the area.
An unidentified Charleston Fire Lieutenant said in his field report that after the ATF agents and a "accelerant sniffing dog" from Lexington, KY was able to confirm that no flammable liquids were present at the scene, they found a small glass container believed to have held a candle in the area they think the fire started. Also found in the area was two cell phones, remote controls and a burst aerosol can.
Another unidentified fire investigator with the Charleston Fire Department narrowed the source of the fire down to a candle left burning or a "defective electronic device that may have cause and electrical short."
Neither has been confirmed or ruled out.
While one witness told investigators candles were left burning, another witness told investigators all of the candles had been blown out. After the fire started, it is possible that a working smoke detector did alert the family to the fire.
"It is my opinion that there is a possibility that some of the children, Alisha and Alex were alerted by the activation of the smoke alarm located at the top portion of the stairwell because of the victims location on the [redacted]. Some of the children had to have gotten up out of bed and went to Alisha's room. It is my opinion that based on the location of [redacted] downstairs and [redacted] also must have went down the stairs to either escape the residence or to investigate what was causing the smoke alarm to activate."
The ATF investigator noted no safety concerns in his report. He concludes, like Charleston investigators, that the fire began near the entertainment center and notes that the adults at the party had been "drinking heavily."
Charleston Fire Investigators declined comment for this story, saying they would wait for the medical examiners report to return, when they would then finish their own report.
Attorneys speaking on behalf of the family declined comment citing potential litigation.
You can read the full report by clicking here.