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Fire Investigators Still Searching For Cause Of Fatal Blaze

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - A Decatur family continues to struggle with their grief, many of them consumed with an overwhelming sense of loss following the death last Thursday morning of two young children. Four-year old Marlena Miland and her two year old brother Dexter Miland Junior both perished when their parent's small apartment erupted in flames. While the family prepares for Tuesday's funerals, fire investigators continue their efforts to determine what caused the blaze.

Sterling Crayton stands in front of the apartment building where two of his grandchildren perished Thursday morning. From a distance, you can hear him ask why Lord, why.

Fire raced through the apartment so quickly no one could reach the bedroom where the two youngest children were trapped. Crayton says his daughter and son-in-law are still trying to come to grips with what has happened.

"They doing about as well as expected. They, they still going through, Dexter, he still numb and wondering could he did anything, any more to get 'em out, and like I tell him he did all he could do, all God allowed him to do," Crayton explained.

An attorney hired by the fire victims, Gary Conchin, tells us an investigator brought in by the building's owner has removed the smoke detectors from each of the four units that burned. Conchin says residents in each of those apartments claim their smoke detectors never went off to alert them of the fire. We spoke with residents in two of the buildings at the complex who say their smoke detectors seem to be working just fine.

Meanwhile fire investigators tells us that the samples that were sent to an independent lab in Chilton County for testing have all come back with no signs of a liquid accelerent that might have been used to either start the fire or cause it to spread so rapidly. And they tell us that their investigation into what caused the fire continues.

Funeral services for 4-year old Marlena Miland and 2 year old Dexter Miland Junior are scheduled for one o'clock Tuesday afternoon at the United Pentecostal Jubilee House of Prayer on Memorial Drive in Decatur.


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