Investigators believe cause of fatal Abilene apartment fire was accidental

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/RKBC) - Fire officials believe an apartment fire that claimed the life of an Abilene 4-year-old was accidental in nature, but no official cause has been determined. 

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, members of the Abilene Fire Department gave an update on the fire at the Warwick apartment complex on Arrowhead Road that claimed the life of 4-year-old Liam Hardy and injured his 9-year-old brother Aiden and his mother Ashley Wednesday morning. 

Investigators believe the fire started in the living room just as the boys had laid down for a nap. Fire Capitan Jeremy Williams says Aiden told investigators he heard a noise, went to go see what it was, and found his mother putting the fire out with an extinguisher.

She then told Aiden to run outside, but the door was locked, so she had to help him out, then ran back in to save Liam. She was overcome by smoke before she could reach him and both had to be rescued from the apartment.

Two bystanders, John Farrell and Michael Garcia, were first on scene and were able to pull Ashley outside. Firefighters arrived soon after and pulled Liam out of the apartment. He was unconscious at the scene but was resuscitated at the hospital. 

Fire Chief Larry Bell called Farrell's and Garcia's actions 'heroic' during the press conference and said they would be formally recognized for their actions in the future. 

Aiden was treated for burns and smoke inhalation at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. Ashley and Liam were both flown to a burn center in Lubbock, where Liam passed away later that night. Ashley remains in serious condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on over 80% of her body. 

One of the first firefighters on scene, an 8-year-veteran of the force, sustained minor burns while trying to rescue Liam. He has since been released from the hospital but will have a follow-up visit next week. 

Investigators are currently trying to eliminate causes to determine what started the fire. They did say there are no signs of arson, and everything at the scene suggests the cause was accidental. Many witnesses reported hearing an explosion, but investigators believe the explosion occurred after the fire had already started and was a byproduct of the intense heat and flames. 

Two smoke detectors were in the apartment, but fire officials say there's no way to know if they functioned properly or not. 

Twenty-one residents have been displaced due to this two-alarm fire and are currently being assisted by family members and the Red Cross.

Chief Larry Bell wants to extend his appreciation to his department personnel as well as the Abilene Police Department, Metrocare, and also community members who have shown an "overwhelming" amount of support during this tragic event. 

Stick with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information on the Warwick apartment fire as it's released.


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