Investigators say the fire originated in a baseboard heater.
The Frederick County Fire Investigation Task Force says the cause of that fatal house fire last month in the 3900 block of Highland Avenue in Myersville was accidental.
Authorities say the fire originated in a baseboard heater located in the first floor living room. It was behind the couch which came into contact with the drapes that were ignited. The fire quickly spread to the furniture in the room.
"We do believe due to the weather conditions that night, gusty winds, as the occupants tried to exit through exterior doors and windows, the wind actually pushed the fire through the windows and caused it to spread," says Corporal Jason West with the Sheriff's Office, whose also a member of the Fire Investigation task Force.
The blaze killed Madigan Lillard, 3, and her sister, Sophie, 6. They were trapped inside the home in separate bedrooms on the second floor when fire fighters arrived on the scene.
Their sister, Morgan Lillard, 8, was taken to Children's Medical Center in Washington, and the their father, Jack Lillard, was transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center. The children's mother, Angela Lillard, and daughter Sadie, 7-months, were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital for treatment. A Middletown Volunteer Fire Company Fire Fighter who suffered injuries was also taken to FMH. "They have all been released from the hospital, and are certainly on the road to recovery," says Corporal West.
Investigators say the smoke alarms in the home were not operational. FIre officials urge residents to check their smoke alarms on a periodic basis, and replace weak or dead batteries.
Damage to the home and contents is estimated at $200,000.