State Fire Marshal’s Office Determines Cause in Deadly Orrington Fire
According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, a fire that killed a father and his three children in Orrington Saturday morning was sparked by cardboard boxes left near a wood stove.Ben Johnson III, 30, and his three kids, 9-year old Ben, 8-year old Leslie and 4-year old Ryan all perished in the blaze. Autopsy results show the four died from smoke inhalation, according to the State Medical Examiner’s Office. Officials said Monday that the bodies of the three children were found on the floor of a second story bedroom in the home on Dow Road. Their father’s body was recovered at the head of the stairs on the second floor. Fire officials said near the stove they also found a container of lighter fluid, which they believe helped the fire spread once the boxes were ignited. Authorities said the family had returned from a night of bowling Friday and started the stove, located in a first floor living room. Neighbors and firefighters reportedly did not hear any smoke detectors go off. The only survivor, Christine Johnson, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center for smoke inhalation, but was said to be improving Sunday night. She met with investigators Monday morning at the hospital.State police officials said the fire is the deadliest in Maine since 1992.The school two of the Johnson children attended in Orrington was open Monday for counseling, despite the holiday. The Center Drive School provided grief counselors from noon until 3:00 p.m. for any families trying to cope with the loss. Superintendent Allan Snell said about 50 students stopped in throughout the afternoon.”When they’re leaving they seem to all be doing well, but some are coming in with a whole variety of concerns, the kinds of feelings that come from having been either classmates or been in the school and this sort of thing is scary to them,” said Snell. The school plans to have counselors on staff again, Tuesday.