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No cause found in fire that killed Payette couple

Posted: 2:17 PM, Jan 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-08 21:17:12Z

Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators have so far been unable to determine the exact cause of a fire that killed Phil Skelly, 79, and his wife, Darlene, at their home in Payette. 
Both died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The fire occurred in the late evening hours of Tuesday, January 3rd. The Payette Fire Department responded just before midnight to the home at 170 South 19th Street.

The house was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived. Firefighters were unable to gain entry into the home to rescue the couple due to the magnitude of fire.

“The area of fire origin was evident,” said Idaho State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl. “The living room, where a dining room table was located, became the focus of the investigation.”

Investigators said a hole in the floor suggests the fire burned for up to two hours before being noticed by witnesses, who called 9-1-1. Several potential sources of ignition were examined -- with no clear evidence that one was the cause of the fire, they added. “Fires involving fatalities are especially difficult and receive top priority,” said Sandahl. “Every effort is made by investigators to provide answers for the family of the victims.”  In this case, a cause could not definitely be determined. “No investigator, whatever the circumstances, wants the cause of a fire to be undetermined. We can say, however, that this fire is not suspicious,” he stated.

 Investigators were told smoke alarms were “reported to be present,” in the house, but none were found.