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Fire marshal closes investigation into fatal Athens Thanksgiving Day fire

ATHENS, Ohio — An investigation by the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau, in collaboration with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens County Coroner’s Office, has concluded its investigation into the fatal fire that occurred last year on Nov. 23, 2023, at a residence at 11547 Rainbow Lake Road, Athens, Ohio.

Upon completion of the investigation, authorities did not find any evidence to suggest the fire was intentionally set. The cause of the fire is officially undetermined and attributed to several possible factors within the residence, including improper use of electrical cords, alternate winter heating methods, and hoarding.

Upon arriving at the scene on Thanksgiving morning, firefighters discovered the structure, comprised of two joined single-wide mobile homes, completely engulfed in flames. The fire resulted in the loss of five lives.

The comprehensive investigation included numerous interviews with individuals who might possess knowledge about the incident, as well as an extensive examination of the fire scene. The Athens County Coroner’s Office performed autopsies to identify the deceased occupants.

The Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau thanks the community for their cooperation during this investigation and reminds all residents to ensure they have functioning smoke detectors in their homes, plug space heaters directly into an approved outlet and never daisy chain electrical cords.

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