Investigators have ruled that an accidental blaze that destroyed a Myersville home and killed two young girls started when a baseboard heater in the home’s living room caught draperies on fire.
The Jan. 31 fire at the home in the 3900 block of Highland Avenue in Myersville began when a baseboard heater in the living room on the home’s first floor ignited some draperies behind a couch, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
Smoke alarms in the home were not working on the night of the fire, a sheriff’s office news release said.
The fire left Sophie Lillard, 6, and Madigan Lillard, 3, dead from smoke inhalation, authorities said. Their parents, Jack and Angela “Chrissi” Lillard, and two sisters were taken to area hospitals.
The two girls were found in separate bedrooms on the second floor of the house, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said.
Furniture in the room caught fire, and the blaze spread quickly because of windy conditions outside and the opening of doors and windows as family members tried to escape the home, the release said.
Any time there’s a house fire, you should try to close any doors or windows on the way out of the house, said Bruce Bouch, a spokesman for the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Fires need heat, fuel and oxygen to spread, and any air going into a house will help a fire spread quicker, he said.
Bouch said any heating device should be kept at least 3 feet away from any combustible items such as furniture.
Over time, too much heat can draw the moisture out of items and make them more flammable, he said.
Although there’s no way to know exactly how the fire spread, the wind seemed to help push it throughout the house, Bailey said.
Morgan Lillard, 8, was released from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 8, according to a release from the family. The other family members had been previously treated and released from area hospitals.
The tragedy has inspired a flood of donations and fundraisers to benefit the family.
One online fundraiser alone raised more than $54,000 for the family. A Chik-Fil-A fundraiser for the Lillards, including cash, checks, a donation from the fastfood restaurant, and gift cards raised more than $12,000, said Vicki Younger, who helped organize the event.
In a Feb. 13 statement, Jack and Chrissi Lillard said the family planned to hold an event celebrating their daughters’ lives sometime in the spring.
They said the family hoped to honor Sophie and Madigan’s love for the outdoors by creating a children’s playground.
Donations for the playground can be made out to the “Lillard Family Fund” and taken to PNC Bank locations in Frederick County.