Advertisement
New Zealand markets open in 6 hours 12 minutes
  • NZX 50

    11,946.43
    +143.15 (+1.21%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.5941
    +0.0004 (+0.07%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    7,937.50
    -0.40 (-0.01%)
     
  • OIL

    82.34
    -0.47 (-0.57%)
     
  • GOLD

    2,344.00
    +5.60 (+0.24%)
     

Police Say There’s ‘No Evidence’ to Suspect Arson in Fire that Killed 5 Kids While Dad Was Out Shopping

"The exact cause has been undetermined," a Bullhead City Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE

<p>Youtube/12News</p> Duplex that caught fire on Dec. 16, 2023 in Bull City, AZ.

Youtube/12News

Duplex that caught fire on Dec. 16, 2023 in Bull City, AZ.

The Bullhead City Police Department said that there is “no evidence associated with a criminal offense” in the December 2023 fire that killed five children in Arizona.

The five children — John Jones III, 13, Henry Lewis, 11, Zane Jones, 5, Freya Jones, 4, and Elias Jones, 2 — were killed in a second-floor bedroom of a two-story duplex in Bullhead, Ariz., on Dec. 16, 2023. The fire began when the father of siblings John, Zane, Freya and Elias was out of the home.

According to a press release from the Bullhead City Police Department (BCPD), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) fire investigators collected fire debris samples that were ruled “negative for accelerants, and no evidence has been found to suspect arson.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“The case is pending final reports from the ATF and Lake Havasu City Fire Department. The exact cause has been undetermined. At this time, there is no evidence associated with a criminal offense,” read the BCPD statement.

A BCPD spokesperson tells PEOPLE that the father “is not under investigation for anything criminal relating to this incident” after the reports he was out shopping for Christmas gifts for two and a half hours at the time of the fire.

On Dec. 19, BCPD said that the investigation revealed that the fire started “in the downstairs foyer area” and “traveled up the only staircase inside the home, preventing the victims from exiting.”

Related: 5 Children Aged 13 and Under Killed in Arizona House Fire

<p>12 News/Youtube</p> Duplex where the Dec. 16, 2023 Bullhead City fire occurred.

12 News/Youtube

Duplex where the Dec. 16, 2023 Bullhead City fire occurred.

Four of the victims were siblings, while the fifth child, Henry Lewis, was a relative of the siblings, whom he was “visiting at the time.”

Several neighbors reportedly attempted to rescue the children at the time of the incident. Those assisting placed an extension ladder near the upstairs bedroom where the children were in an attempt to rescue them.

One neighbor, Patrick O’Neal, told AZFamily.com that several people tried to get to the kids through the garage.

“We pulled the garage door open, there was guys pulling stuff out,” said O’Neal. “The closer we got to the door there was smoke starting to come into the garage and choking people out.”

According to the BCPD, the fire department extinguished the main body of the fire within minutes of their arrival.

Related: Father Was Out Christmas Shopping When House Fire Killed 5 Kids, Police Say

More than $22,200 has been raised via GoFundMe to support the families who lost children in the fire. The River Fund Inc. has also started The Anna Circle Fire Fund, which is accepting donations from businesses and residents.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

An investigation into the fire is ongoing. Anyone with photos or video of the fire is asked to contact the Bullhead City Police Department at (928) 763-9200.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.