A fire that destroyed a large house on Ky. 693 Monday has been ruled accidental in nature.

The homeowner, Cleo Fortner, told a deputy state fire marshal the blaze started when a cat knocked over a lit candle onto the bed in the home’s front bedroom, catching the bedclothes on fire, said Bob Nolan, assistant chief of the Wurtland Volunteer Fire Department.

Fortner told investigators he attempted to put the fire out himself, but was unable to do so, Nolan said. He also said he and his wife, Joyce, had left a candle burning in the bedroom because of “an odor problem,” he said.

Investigators from the fire marshal’s office and the Kentucky State Police did not find anything in the burned-out remains of the house that would disprove Cleo Fortner’s version of the events, Nolan said.

There was no cat found in the home, but Nolan said it was possible the animal could have escaped before the structure became engulfed in flames.

No one was injured in the blaze. Neighbors reported seeing the Fortners leave the residence shortly before the blaze started. Cleo Fortner left on foot in one direction and his wife drove off shortly before him in a different direction, they said.

The four-bedroom house was only about a year old, neighbors said.

The blaze had burned through the roof of the house by the time firefighters reached the scene. About two dozen fire departments from three departments spent several hours battling the flames in snow, wind and sub-freezing temperatures.


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