COLUMBUS, OHIO, DEC. 25 -- A Christmas Day fire that may have been ignited by a smoldering cigarette killed three adults and two children, police said.
Arson experts helped investigate, but fire Capt. Bruce Sutton said firefighters "have no reason to believe it was anything but an accident."
"We believe it was caused by a smoldering cigarette, but we took all kinds of samples from the house and have sent them to the lab," Sutton said. He said it would be at least Thursday before the lab report was completed.
The early morning fire apparently started at the end of a couch on the first floor of the 2 1/2-story brick house, and caused $30,000 damage, he said.
Todd Allen Qualls, a visitor to the house, said he awakened to the smell of smoke and escaped through a window, cutting his bare feet on glass. He said he climbed down a ladder put up by firefighters. "It all happened so fast, I don't really know what happened," Qualls said.
Family members said the victims were India Hamrick, 25; Ronina Hamrick, 30; Gerald Givens, 39; Rashawn Hamrick, 4; and Natasha Hamrick, 10, all of whom lived in the house that burned.
India and Ronina Hamrick were sisters, Ronina was the mother of the two children, and Givens was the former husband of India and Ronina Hamrick's mother, according to the family members.
One firefighter was injured slightly.