triple fatal fire

Firemen remove one of 3 fatal victims from residence on Carla Drive in Boyd Co., Wednesday morning.

A house fire in Boyd County Wednesday morning claimed three lives.

The blaze was reported about 7:50 a.m. in a split-level home in the 8200 block of Carla Drive, behind Meade Station Plaza.

Authorities identified the victims as Billie Owens, 70; her daughter, Donna Blake, 51; and Blake’s husband, Alva Blake, 63. All three were pronounced dead at the scene by Boyd County Deputy Coroner Mark Ratliff.

Cannonsburg Fire Chief Richard Cyrus said it appeared that all three victims died of smoke inhalation. Their bodies were taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for autopsies, which were scheduled for today.

The victims’ bodies all were discovered in bedrooms on the home’s upper level, Cyrus said.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known and remained under investigation by the Kentucky State Police and the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Foul play is not suspected, the KSP said.

Cyrus said it appeared that the fire originated in the kitchen area, on the upper level of the structure. The kitchen and living room both sustained heavy fire damage and there was smoke damage throughout the building, he said.

The house was equipped with working smoke detectors, Cyrus said.

It appears the blaze may have smoldered for some time before noticed.

Next-door neighbor Don Davania said his wife was leaving for work about 6:45 a.m. when she came back in, woke him and told him she smelled smoke.

Davania said he walked outside to investigate and saw nothing, so he returned to his house and went back to bed.

Later, Davania said, he was awakened by a neighbor from across the street pounding on his front door and yelling that the house next door was on fire.

Davania said he called 911 and ran to the home of another neighbor, B.J. Kimmle, a member of the Summit-Ironville Volunteer Fire Department. Kimmle dashed to the burning home and kicked in the front door. About that time, Cannonsburg firefighters began arriving at the scene, Davania said.

Davania and Kimmle both said they did not know the victims well.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze almost instantly, Cyrus said.

Two of the victims’ bodies were located by the firefighters who made entry into the home, Cyrus said. The bodies were removed from the house and placed on the front lawn, where they were covered with blue plastic tarpaulins. Firefighters and EMS personnel held up the tarpaulins to shield the bodies from view as they were removed from the scene.

The third body was found during a search of the house after the fire was extinguished, Cyrus said.

Detectives Aaron Martin and Rodney Carroll are investigating the blaze for the KSP; state Deputy Fire Marshal Jason Greene for the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Cannonsburg firefighters were assisted at the scene by members of the Summit-Ironville, Westwood and England Hill volunteer fire departments.

KENNETH HART can be reached at (606) 326-2654.

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