ORRINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's office say that cardboard boxes stored too close to a wood stove sparked a fire that killed four people over the weekend.
Neighbors who reported the fire and firefighters on the scene also say they heard no working smoke detectors.
The fire, which killed 30 year old Ben Johnson and his three children, was the deadliest in Maine in 20 years.
Christine Johnson, the mother of the family, survived after being rescued from the roof of the burning building.
The State Medical Examiner says the victims died from smoke inhalation. Christine Johnson is being treated for smoke inhalation at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Investigators say the home was heated with a wood stove and a propane heater insert in the fireplace. The furnace was not working.
Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland issued a news release Monday afternoon saying that the family had returned from a night of bowling Friday and turned on the stove.
Cardboard boxes were kept within inches of the stove and a container of lighter fluid was found nearby. Investigators say the boxes likely ignited and the lighter fluid helped spread the flames.
Center Drive school where two of the children attended, opened its doors to offer support to the community.
Orrington Superintendent Allen Snell said many families spoke with counselors Monday afternoon, "I received calls almost immediately from other superintendents saying their counselors would be available and we are taking full advantage of that. We have several here today and we'll have several tomorrow morning."
Tuesday grief counselors will be visiting classrooms, especially the two classes the Johnson children were in. Allen, however, said the real support needs to go to Christine.
"She's going to need all support and the other family that remains from brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts. They are going to need a lot of support and I think they'll get it from this town. This town will step up and do what they can. The outpouring has been terrific. The fire department has been wonderful and they've had for some of them this has been a really horrific experience," said Snell.
Investigators did meet with Johnson to discuss their findings.
The Fire Marshal's Office says that combustible items need to be kept at least three feet from any wood stove. Fire Marshal Joe Thomas also says never to use flammable liquids to start a fire.
Thomas also urges to make sure homes have smoke detectors with fresh batteries. He says families should also have escape plans and a central meeting point outside the home to account for all family members.