Three lives were lost in a mobile home fire late Sunday night, May 5, according to Grayson County Coroner Joe Brad Hudson.
The youngest of the victims was one-year-old Cole Clouse, who perished in the flames along with his father, Edward Clouse, 41, and family friend Kalvin King, 42.
Hudson said that autopsy results showed that each of the three victims died from smoke inhalation, with the secondary cause of death being thermal injuries, or burns.
Four survivors escaped from the home, including Megan Poole, Shawna Clouse and two minors, ages 3 and 17, according to Grayson County Sheriff Rick Clemons, whose department was first on the scene at the fire located at 349 VanMeter Road.
At least one of the survivors was admitted to Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation.
The home, which was completely destroyed by the blaze, sat quietly surrounded by children’s bicycles and toys on Monday morning. The blackened structure sectioned off with yellow police tape stood as a reminder of the previous night’s tragedy, and a teddy bear lay in the mud, waiting to be picked up again.
The night before, when E-911 Dispatch received the call at just before 11 p.m., dispatchers thought they were dealing with a domestic violence situation. The Grayson County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the scene to handle the call.
When GCSO Deputies Chris Bates and Adam Cottrell contacted dispatch for an update on their way to the scene, they were alerted that the situation was not what it had originally seemed - there was a fire with victims trapped inside.
Bates and Cottrell were the first responders on the scene and when they arrived, they found that the mobile home was already completely engulfed in flames, Clemons said. For safety reasons, the officers asked bystanders and those who had already escaped the home to stop their attempts to re-enter the flaming structure to search for those who had not yet made it out.
A neighbor said on Monday that the grandfather of the child who died in the fire lived nearby and had entered the home in an attempt to rescue family and friends inside, but with no success.
Clemons explained that the deputies broke windows out of the structure in an attempt to locate anyone inside who needed help, but said that unfortunately at that point “there was no hope.”
Leitchfield Fire Department arrived shortly after the deputies and fought the flames until approximately 3:30 a.m., according to a representative with the LFD.
Clemons said that when the flames were out, responders realized that they were dealing with a triple fatality and contacted State Fire Marshall Chris Crawford to investigate.
Crawford, who was at the scene Monday and Tuesday, said that while the investigation is ongoing at this point, “We don’t feel like there is any criminal intent. We’re looking at accidental factors.”
Crawford explained that it is difficult to determine the cause of the flames because, “fire is destructive by nature,” and can destroy any clues as to how the blaze came about. “We may not come to a conclusion,” he said.
Veteran firefighter Jerry Schlosser said that in his 41 years with the LFD, this is only the second triple fatality fire he has seen.