Fatal fire cause will remain ‘undetermined’

LAKE COUNTY – The cause of the March 9 fire that took the lives of Don and Jean Ingle will never be officially known.

The fire destroyed the residence at 310 Washington Street in Webber Township.

Sgt. John Richards of the Michigan State Police, who is the lead investigator of the incident, has said the cause of the fire will be officially listed as “undetermined.”

“I’m not going to be able positively say what caused the fire,” Richards said.

He has been able to determine that the fire’s origin was in the southwest corner of the home, where Richards believes the fireplace, wood-burning stove, and chimney were located.

The extent of damage to the house is a factor in Richards not being to able to determine the cause of the fire.

“By the time I got there, they had already begun excavating (the scene) so its hard to determine exactly what caused the fire.”

After hours of fighting the flames, Lake County officials used a backhoe loader to remove debris in the search for victims.

Two bodies were found in the house a male and a female, later confirmed to be Don and Jean Ingle after autopsies by the Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Lake County Sheriff’s Department officials believed at the time of the fire that the blaze was caused by the home’s wood-burning stove.

In the course of his investigation, Richards has come across neighbors who said the Ingle’s were having problems (with a stove) in the area he believes the fire started.

“I’ve come across neighbors and heard from firefighters that have said they were having fireplace and chimney problems,” he reported.