Family believed at home during fire
Annapolis, Md. — Relatives of six family members who remain unaccounted for after a massive fire gutted a waterfront mansion believe they were inside at the time of the blaze, a fire official said Tuesday.
The charred multimillion-dollar mansion near Maryland’s capital is the focus of the search for the six missing family members, said Capt. Russ Davies, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
Davies has declined to identify the family members. On Tuesday, he wouldn’t give further details about what their relatives said or why they believe the family was inside the mansion.
Davies said a search for the missing family members will begin when crews stabilize the wreckage and pump out tens of thousands of gallons of water from the basement — likely Wednesday.
“We’re going to be talking about days not hours to get this done,” Davies said.
The blaze reduced the mansion to a scorched stone framework Monday. Fire officials said nearly all of the structure collapsed into the basement. The mansion had no sprinkler system, officials said.
Teddy bears and flowers now rest near the front gate and teary-eyed neighbors have stopped by.
Federal investigators were traveling to the scene from across the country Tuesday to figure out what caused the fire, which gutted the 16,000-square-foot home with seven bedrooms and 7½ baths. The flames took hours to put out after the fire began before dawn Monday on the outskirts of Annapolis.
“We know who’s unaccounted for,” said Davies said. “If you look at the damage, you know, it would not be a stretch to think that if there were occupants that they did not survive the fire.”
The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. Monday by an alarm monitoring company and a neighbor who spotted flames at the mansion.
Online records of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation list Don and Sandra Pyle as owners of the home, which the records say is their principal residence. Don Pyle was named chief operating officer of ScienceLogic last fall. The company, based in Reston, Virginia, makes software for cloud computing.
Yama Habibzai, a spokesman for ScienceLogic, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press there was a fire at Pyle’s home early Monday and that it’s under investigation. He said the company had no further comment.
Some 85 firefighters were called in from several jurisdictions to fight the fire. Davies said because there was no fire hydrant in the area, firefighters shuttled water tankers to the site and stationed a fire boat at a pier near the property to bring in water.
Davies said that hot spots took about 10 hours to extinguish before operations were scaled back around nightfall. One part of the scene was still flaring up Tuesday, and Davies said crews were monitoring it and extinguishing it as needed.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the premises Monday afternoon.
Special Agent David Cheplak, a spokesman for the ATF’s Baltimore field office, said there was no evidence at this point of foul play.
According to a 2008 story in The Baltimore Sun, the Pyles’ house, which was the site of a charity event, was described as looking like a castle, with mini-turrets, stonework and lion statues.
State property records said the two-story house was built in 2005, and was listed then at $4.2 million.
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