The cause of the fire that killed two young girls and left several others injured in Ingleside is still undetermined due to how badly burned the home was in the blaze.
“Investigators could not find an exact cause for the fire starting because everything in the room of origin was too badly burned to narrow it down to one specific cause,” Fox Lake Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief Ed Lescher told the Chicago Tribune.
The fire department along with the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal has not found anything suspicious in nature and arson was not the cause, Lescher said.
A final report has not been completed yet and Lescher said a few things still need to be finalized.
A preliminary autopsy conducted Friday indicated Autumn Evans, 5, and Elizabeth Evans, 8, both died from smoke inhalation, according to Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek.
The father of the two girls issued a brief update, saying he is trying to stay strong and is thankful for the community’s support. Over $175,000 has been raised for the family.
The fire started around 10:50 p.m. Thursday at the family’s home in the 35000 block of North Hunt Avenue in Ingleside.
The Fox Lake Fire Protection District arrived and found a two-story residence heavily engulfed in flames, according to Lescher.
The mother, her 17-year-old son, and the grandfather escaped the home with injuries. The grandmother had to be rescued by firefighters.
The grandmother was transported by a medical helicopter to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood in critical condition with burn and smoke inhalation injuries, authorities said.
The other three victims were transported by ambulance to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and two of them were later transferred to Loyola University Medical Center.
Firefighters found the two girls deceased inside the house on the second floor after the fire was extinguished, Lescher said, adding that firefighters tried numerous times to enter the home to save them.
A GoFundMe page, organized by Bridget Lavelle, has already raised more than $175,000 in donations in three days for the Evans family.
“Thank you everyone for your kind words and all the help and support you have shown and given. I am truly grateful for every last person,” said Teig Prickett, the father of Autumn and Elizabeth.
The grandfather and grandmother remain at Loyola Medical Center in critical but stable condition. The mother is in serious but stable condition.
“We are hopeful for everyone to heal and from everyone in the family we truly appreciate EVERYONES support through our tragedy,” Prickett said.
“I am not ready to talk about my precious girls because it hurts too much and I am trying to keep it together for my family. I will truly grieve soon, but for now I must stay strong. Again, thank you to everyone. I love you all so very much,” he added.
The 17-year-old son has been discharged from Advocate Condell Medical Center. The family’s dog and cat both died in the blaze.
“Please help this family in their time of need. They will have many obstacles to overcome in the wake of this great tragedy, any help in this time of need is appreciated,” Lavelle said in the GoFundMe.
Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said that deputies who arrived first at the scene tried to make entry to the home but couldn’t due to the intensity of the fire.
Deputies were able to assist the three victims who initially made it out of the home and brought them to safety away from the flames.
The sheriff’s office sent detectives and an arson investigator to the scene. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and their arson canine also responded to the scene to assist in the investigation.
The fire remains under investigation by the Fox Lake Fire Protection District, Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois State Fire Marshal.