Columbia County Fire Ruled Accidental

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BENTON TOWNSHIP — Investigators think a fire that killed a dog in Columbia County started by accident.

A faulty coal stove pipe is suspected of starting the fire Friday in Benton Township.

A couple were renting the cabin and the dog was a stray that they had found along the side of the road. Investigators initially thought that the dog may have started the fire.


  • Richard Detwiler

    This follow-up to the original story that was full of errors and omissions is equally poorly done. To clarify: there were no investigators (there was one visit by a state police fire marshall the day after the fire); there were no renters (there was a daughter of a neighbor and her husband who had needed a place to stay temporarily, but who had overstayed their welcome by many months and had been told several times since summer that mid-December was the latest they could stay); there was no stray dog (in the sense usually meant by stray as ownerless, abandoned dog; there was a lost pet, now deceased).
    There were no investigators involved in the original talk about the possible involvement of the dog in starting the fire. There was speculation on the part of volunteer fire fighters and the couple who had left the dog in the cabin. The state trooper’s best guess is the stove pipe. The professional forensic fire investigator’s report is not yet completed. No one has “ruled” anything, except that the fire was unintentional and not arson.

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