July 6, 2013

Kids playing with lighter started fatal fire


Three of those who escaped were patients in the care of the Swieszes, LaFountain said. They have been placed in another residence.

When they arrived at the fire Thursday, police “began attending to some distraught individuals in the adjacent yard (to the home),” Smith said.


Preliminary evidence indicates that Hotaling, Waddy and Brusgul likely died of carbon-monoxide poisoning, LaFountain said, adding, “A victim will be overcome by smoke very quickly.”

Two of the three who died were found directly above the garage, and the third person was upstairs near the stairwell, he said.

“We are talking about elderly people. Some had other disabilities as well, which would made escape difficult,” LaFountain said.

As of Friday afternoon, investigators had no evidence that there was any violation in regard to proper evacuation procedure, he said.

Autopsies were performed at CVPH Friday by Dr. Jolie Rodriguez to determine the cause of death of each of the victims. The final results will be pending a toxicology analysis.


Because of the age of the children, criminal charges will not be filed, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said, but the case will be handled by Office of Children and Family Services.

The minimum age for criminal prosecution in New York state is 13.

“Hopefully, next week, we will take the information that the police have gathered and proceed accordingly” in regard to the juveniles, said Christine Peters, director of legal and social services at the Office of Children and Family Services.

Peters didn’t know if the children had been told that three people died in the fire.


The Swieszes’ adult home had just been re-inspected in May, Peters said, and it met all of the state’s requirements.

Peters could not say whether there is special insurance associated with certified adult homes, and Day didn’t know whether the Swieszes had insurance on their house.

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