Cause of fatal Myersville fire still unknown

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the house fire that claimed the lives of two young sisters and injured several members of a Myersville family.

Sophie Paige Lillard, 6, and Madigan Grace Lillard, 3, died in Thursday’s fire in the 3900 block of Highland Avenue. The girls died of smoke inhalation, an autopsy determined.

A neighbor reported the fire at about 11:20 p.m., and the home was engulfed in flames with the sisters trapped inside by the time firefighters arrived.

The fast-moving blaze gutted the single-family home and, along with an unstable structure, prevented firefighters from reaching the children in time. About 75 firefighters from approximately 40 fire and rescue companies battled the fire, which caused an estimated $200,000 in damage.

Four family members escaped the home, including 8-year-old Morgan Lillard, who was taken to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. A report on her condition was not available Monday. Jack Lillard, 39, was flown to Medstar Washington Hospital Center and has since been released. Angela, 33, and 7- month-old Sadie Lillard were treated at Frederick Memorial and released Friday.

Mike Dmuchowski, spokesman for the Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office, said investigators are still in the process of conducting interviews with neighbors and family members in an effort to determine what caused the fire.

“We’re hoping in the next couple days that he’ll wrap all those up,” Dmuchowski said.

Dmuchowski declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation because of concerns that it could affect the input received from those interviewed if they saw the information before speaking with investigators.

He said Frederick County Fire and Rescue held a debriefing Saturday to help the responding firefighters cope with the tragedy. He wasn’t sure how many attended, but he said resources are always available to fire and rescue personnel who need to talk about what they have seen and experienced.

“It’s not always a fire,” Dmuchowski said. “Sometimes it can be an accident or something like that. Different things affect people differently.”

Support for the Lillard family has continued to pour in from the community. A website set up by the Fit for Life Boot Camp had raised $41,615 by Monday evening, reaching more than 80 percent of its goal of $50,000.

An account was also opened for the family at Frederick County Bank through the Lillard Family Recovery Fund. Donations can be made at any branch.

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