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Sixth body found in wreckage of Annapolis mansion fire


four young children and their grandparents died

By Lynh Bui and Julie Zauzmer/The Washington Post | 1/26/2015, 10:57 p.m.
Sixth body found in wreckage of Annapolis mansion fire
Los nietos de la familia Boone que perecieron en el incendio de la mansión de Annapolis. (Arrriba, izq.) Wes, 6 años, y Charlotte, 8 años, y abajo, Lexi , 8 años, y Katie, 7 años, (Fotos de la familia) | Foto Familiar

Jan. 20, 2015 Flames consumed the mansion, bringing down its seven-ton steel beams and reducing to ash a structure the size of seven average single-family houses. Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

Newton/TWP

Jan. 20, 2015 Flames consumed the mansion, bringing down its seven-ton steel beams and reducing to ash a structure the size of seven average single-family houses. Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

Crews have found the final body they have been searching for in the burned-out remains of an Annapolis mansion, where authorities believe four young children and their grandparents died in a four-alarm fire one week ago.

Anne Arundel County fire officials announced the discovery of the sixth body Monday, after crews had spent six days combing through the wreckage of the $6 million waterfront mansion owned by computer networking executive Don Pyle and his wife, Sandra Pyle.

Don, 56, and Sandra, 63, likely died in the fire along with their four grandchildren: Lexi, 8; Katie, 7; and their first cousins, Charlotte, 8; and Wes, 6.

On Jan. 18, “Pop-Pop” and “Dee-Dee,” as they were called, took the four Boone children to Medieval Times for dinner and a show of jousting knights before a slumber party at the 16,000-square-foot home that neighbors called “the castle.” The fire began after they’d returned home.

Investigators worked through the weekend to find the remaining body and to search for clues to what caused the fire. While the first 72 hours of the search yielded the remains of five people, the search for the sixth body took a bit more time.

Two bodies were found Wednesday, the first day the wreckage was safe enough to enter. Two more were found Thursday and a fifth found Friday. All of the bodies have been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for identification and autopsies.

Earlier, authorities said that they were investigating the possibility of foul play but had found no evidence to indicate what started the fire.

The Jan. 19 blaze was one of the most devastating in Maryland in years, according to Bruce Bouch, the senior deputy state fire marshal whose agency has been helping Anne Arundel County with its investigation.

Bouch said a home alarm alerted 911 that smoke was detected on the first and second floors of the mansion, but because of the home’s vast open areas, the fire probably spread rapidly and “overcame the space.”

County fire officials said there were no sprinklers in the Pyle mansion, which was built in 2005 — four years before Anne Arundel began to require them in new residential homes. Fire sprinklers will become mandatory in all new residential buildings in Maryland starting in June.

Navigating the wreckage of the mansion has been complex, delicate and dangerous, officials said. The scene is daunting, like wading through an enormous, six-foot-deep swimming pool full of concrete, charred wood, ash and sludge that must be removed and reviewed – shovel by shovel, bucket by bucket.

Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Russell L. Davies Jr. said crews have been arriving as soon as light breaks and don’t stop working until the sun goes down. They’ve worked in snow, rain and below-freezing temperatures.

Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Russell L. Davies Jr. said crews have been arriving as soon as light breaks and don’t stop working until the sun goes down. They’ve worked in snow, rain and below-freezing temperatures.