Independent Fire Investigators Looking into Cause of Fatal Fire


Stuffed animals and flowers now sit outside the badly burned home at 2815 Garfield Dr. where a 27 year old mother and her three children died in a fire early Saturday Morning. The Winnebago County Coroner’s Office says Keandrea Austin and her 9 year old son V’Angelo Totty, 6 year old daughter Keeryn Austin, and 6 month old baby, Aliya Beasley-Austin, never stood a chance to make it out.

“Did they die as a result of the flames of the fire or did they die as a result of smoke inhalation. My opinion is they probably died of smoke inhalation,” Coroner Sue Fidducia said after a preliminary look over the bodies. “So they were probably already gone before the fire reached them.”

An independent fire investigation company is now handling the case, and even though its on hold pending an autopsy on the four bodies, they’re heavily looking into arson as a cause.The head investigator tells Eyewitness News they’ve taken evidence samples from the floor of the home to determine whether an accelerant was used, and have alerted the State Fire Marshall. He also says that the four bodies were found in the same room within close proximity of each other.

While Rockford Fire isn’t jumping to any conclusion, they are being thorough in their investigation.

“Anything is a possibility at this point, and that’s what our investigation does,” Division Chief Matt Knott said. “We go with no preconceived notions and we just let the facts speak for themselves.”

Neighbor’s say if the four were killed intentionally they hope justice is served.

“I hope they find out what happened and deal with it properly,” Kerry Williams, who lives in the area, said aftering finding out what happened. “It’s a shame, especially in the neighborhood. Things like that shouldn’t happen.”

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