TIME Accidents

Electrical Fire Ignited Christmas Tree in Fatal Mansion Blaze

16,000 square-foot home near Maryland's capital reduced to ruins on Jan. 19

(MILLERSVILLE, Md.) — An electrical fire that spread to a 15-foot Christmas tree prompted a blaze that reduced a 16,000 square-foot riverfront mansion near Maryland’s capital to ruins, killing a couple and four of their young grandchildren, investigators said Wednesday.

The fire ignited combustible material and tore through the massive, castlelike structure in the early morning hours of Jan. 19.

Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Allan Graves said in a statement Wednesday that the tree had been cut more than 60 days before the blaze and was in a “great room” of the house with 19-foot ceilings.

“The involvement of the Christmas tree explains the heavy fire conditions found by the first arriving fire crews,” Graves said.

Investigators on Wednesday identified the victims as Don and Sandra Pyle and their grandchildren: Charlotte Boone, 8; Wes Boone, 6; Lexi Boone, 8, and Katie Boone, 7. Don Pyle, 56, was chief operating officer of ScienceLogic in Reston, Virginia.

The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 19 by an alarm-monitoring company, reporting smoke had been detected inside, and a neighbor who spotted flames. Officials said it is unclear whether an alarm sounded inside the 16,000-square-foot home, which could have alerted anyone inside. Some 85 firefighters from several jurisdictions fought the four-alarm fire, which burned for three hours before it could be contained. Because there was no hydrant in the area, firefighters shuttled tankers to the site and stationed a fire boat at a pier nearby.

Investigators brought in dogs to search for bodies and evidence, such as accelerants, and conducted more than 50 interviews.

A spokeswoman for the children’s parents said that the day before the fire, the doting grandparents bought the children costumes before taking them to dinner at a medieval-themed restaurant.

Charlotte and Wes Boone were sister and brother. Lexi and Katie were sisters; they had a newborn brother who was home with his parents, Randy and Stacey Boone, the night of the fire. The cousins’ fathers, Randy and Clint Boone, were the sons of Sandra Pyle, 63. The four children were students at the Severn School in Severna Park.

The Boone family said in a statement Tuesday, following the discovery Monday of the sixth body at the house that they were “relieved that our loved ones have all been recovered.”

“Though we are grieving deeply, this has brought us some small sense of closure,” the statement read. “We take comfort in that they are now together, and we can begin to mend our hearts.”

The Pyles built the home in 2005, four years before the county began requiring sprinkler systems in new homes.

The $6 million property once boasted turrets, spiral staircases, lion statues, a sprawling lawn and forested land. All that remains resembles a colonial ruin: a brick wall with windows missing and a mountain of burned debris.

As investigators from the fire department; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the state fire marshal’s office probed the scene, members of the community brought notes and teddy bears for a small memorial just outside the property. On brick columns that flanked an iron gate, Christmas decorations were still displayed.

TIME States

Missouri 5-Year-Old Fatally Shoots Baby Brother

He found the gun lying near the bed, local sheriff said

A nine-month-old boy died Monday after his 5-year-old brother shot him in the head.

The Missouri infant was reportedly in a playpen when his older brother fired a loaded gun that he found near the bed, Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White said, local media KCTV reports.

The boys’ mother told 911 dispatchers her son had been shot with a paintball gun.

When the emergency crew arrived, they discovered he had been shot with a .22 caliber magnum revolver. The shooting, authorities say, was an accident.

[KCTV]

TIME Accidents

10 Die When Texas Prison Bus Skids Off Highway, Hits Train

(ODESSA, Texas) — A prison bus skidded off an icy Texas highway, slid down an embankment and collided with a passing freight train Wednesday, killing eight inmates and two corrections officers, including the bus driver, authorities said.

The overpass on Interstate 20 was slick with ice Wednesday morning when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus left the roadway in Penwell, just west of Odessa, according to Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.

The prisoners, who did not have seat belts, were handcuffed together in pairs, officials said. Some of them were ejected from the bus after it struck the train, said Trooper Elizabeth Barney of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

An earlier accident on the I-20 overpass may have contributed to the prison bus losing control, Donaldson said.

“It’s as bad as you can imagine,” Odessa Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Kavin Tinney told the Odessa American newspaper. “In 32 years it’s as bad as anything I’ve seen.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed the 10 deaths in a statement, adding that four prisoners and one corrections officer were injured. Tiffany Harston, spokeswoman for Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, said four of the injured are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

Jason Clark, a Department of Criminal Justice spokesman, said the bus was new and had been placed in service only this past summer. It was taking the inmates from the Middleton prison in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso, which is about 250 miles west of where the accident happened.

The prisoners did not have any leg restraints, said Jason Heaton, agency director for the region. Only the driver’s seat had a seat belt, he said. Like many buses, the vehicle did not have seat belts on the bench-type seats where the prisoners were seated.

After the accident around 7:30 a.m., the white bus came to rest on its side, next to the railroad tracks, crumpled with heavy damage to its front and undercarriage. The top of the bus was caved inward.

The Union Pacific freight train with four locomotives and 58 cars came to a stop soon after. None of the cars derailed, but two containers at the rear of the train were damaged, said Mark Davis, a railroad spokesman.

The containers were carrying hundreds of parcels and packages, many of which were strewn along the tracks.

No Union Pacific employees were injured.

The train, which was traveling from the Los Angeles area to Marion, Arkansas, remained stopped at the accident site several hours after the accident, Davis said.

“We’ll send crews to inspect the train, inspect the track,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending its own team of inspectors to the scene.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement offering condolences to the families of those killed in the wreck.

“I also pray for a speedy recovery of a third correctional staff member and four offenders who were transported with injuries,” he said.

In June, an inmate was killed and several other people were injured when a Department of Criminal Justice van collided with a car in Central Texas.

___

Warren reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer Diana Heidgerd in Dallas also contributed to this report.

TIME Accidents

Two Planes Clip Wings at New York Airport

No injuries or significant delays were reported

Two planes clipped wings at a New York City airport on Tuesday morning but damages appeared slight and no injuries were reported.

The Denver-bound Southwest Airlines flight, which had 143 passengers and five crew members aboard, damaged its left winglet when it made contact at LaGuardia Airport with an American Airlines flight just in from Dallas and carrying 149 passengers and six crew members, CBS reports. The latter aircraft sustained damage to its tail wing.

The incident did not cause significant delays, the Port Authority says, DNAinfo reports.

[CBS]

TIME weather

More Than 400,000 Lose Power on Thanksgiving

Thanks to a dangerous mix of snow and rain on the East Coast

More than 400,000 people along the East Coast lost power on the busiest cooking day of the year, thanks to a dangerous mix of snow and rain that downed power lines across the region.

New Hampshire was hit the hardest with more than 195,000 without power on Thanksgiving morning. More than 100,000 Maine residents and 55,000 New York residents were also left in the dark.

Almost 5,000 flights were delayed and 700 flights canceled Wednesday, as winter weather snarled air travel up and down the east coast. The roads weren’t much better — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency because of the condition on the roads, and Connecticut police recorded 125 accidents in just one day.

So if you’ve made it to the dinner table, the lights are on and and your food is hot, those are three things to be thankful for.

TIME Aviation

Drones Are Beginning to Pose a Real Threat to Flight Safety Says FAA Data

Agribotix, a start-up in Boulder, manufactures drones for agricultural use.
The Kestrel Cinematix drone takes photos and video from the air. Agribotix, a start-up in Boulder, manufactures drones for agricultural use and hopes to grow the business as restrictions are lifted on their use. Kathryn Scott Osler—Denver Post/Getty Images

There have been 25 near-collisions with aircraft reported since June 1 this year

The small, remote-controlled drones that have recently grown in popularity are beginning to pose a significant threat to flight safety in the United States, according to new data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The data, released Wednesday at the request of the Washington Post and various other news outlets, reveals 25 near-collisions with airborne drones reported by commercial and private pilots since June 1. Many of these incidents reportedly occurred near New York and Washington, and several of them took place at major U.S. airports.

Drones, often mounted with cameras for aerial photography (although Amazon wants to use them to deliver goods as well), are becoming an everyday object. However, people who operate them often exceed the altitude limits set by the FAA, bringing them dangerously close to aircraft and helicopter flight paths.

“All it’s going to take is for one to come through a windshield to hurt some people or kill someone,” Kyle Fortune, a private pilot, told the Post. Fortune said he suddenly spotted a drone 100 feet underneath his aircraft during a Sept. 22 flight.

Other pilots said that drones getting sucked into engines, rotors or propellers could cause potentially fatal accidents.

[Washington Post]

TIME discoveries

How Garbage Kickstarted the Modern Chemical Industry

Accident leads to breakthrough

Throughout the history of science, some of the most important breakthroughs have come about through happy accidents. This certainly bears true in the video above, courtesy of the American Chemical Society, which explains how garbage kicked off the entire chemical industry.

TIME Accident

2 Children Injured, 1 Critically, in Bouncy House Accident

Bounce House Bouncy House
Getty Images

One of the toddlers was in critical condition as a result of the accident

Two toddlers were injured on Sunday, one critically, when a bouncy house they were playing in was carried away by the wind, according to local reports. The bouncy house at a farm in New Hampshire traveled between 50 and 60 feet.

The bouncy house was not properly tethered to the ground at the time of the accident, WDHD reports. A two-year-old was critically injured during the accident and was airlifted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, WCVB reports. His three-year-old companion was treated at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, N.H.

The incident is the latest in a string of bouncy house accidents, which child safety advocates have said is partially due to the fact that they can be purchased by anyone and most states lack safety guidelines.

TIME Accidents

Watch the Coast Guard Rescue a Man Floating 70 Miles off Florida in a Bubble

An intrepid explorer is returned home

The Coast Guard rescued a disoriented man in a hydro pod bubble 70 nautical miles east of St. Augustine, Florida early Saturday morning.

Reza Baluchi, a U.S. citizen, was found in an inflatable bubble, disoriented and asking for directions to Bermuda, the Coast Guard said. He was carrying protein bars, bottled water, a GPS and a satellite phone.

The Coast Guard asked Baluchi to end his voyage due to the lack of supplies on his vessel, but Blauchi refused. Baluchi was monitored until he activated his Personal Locating Beacon on Saturday morning and the Coast Guard dispatched vessels and helicopter crews to his position to rescue him.

Baluchi was uninjured.

 

TIME Accident

Bus Crash in Delaware Kills 2, Injures 48

Delaware Bus Crash
Passengers from a tour bus are treated for injuries near the overturned bus at the Tybouts Corner on ramp from southbound Del. 1 to Red Lion Road in Bear, Del. on Sept. 21, 2014. John J. Jankowski—The Wilmington News-Journal/AP

The bus was traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York

A sightseeing tour bus crashed in Delaware on Sunday, killing two people and injuring 48, police said.

The bus, owned by New York-based company AM USA Express, was traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City at the time of the crash, Delaware state police said. The names of the passengers who perished in the crash have not yet been released, though police have identified them as a 30-year-old female passenger from Turkey and a 54-year-old female passenger from New York.

The bus overturned near an exit ramp in New Castle, Delaware, according to the preliminary investigation. The bus was a part of a three-day tour hosted by E World Travel and Tours that began on Friday, according to police. Passengers are being treated at several hospitals in the area, and at least a few are reportedly in critical condition.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser