GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - On the day workers demolished what was left of their burned home, Gwinnett County's Medical Examiner ruled that Kathy Patterson and her two daughters, Kayla and Madeline died of accidental causes.
Gwinnett County Medical Examiner Dr. Carol Terry tells FOX 5 the manner of death is smoke and soot inhalation and the cause is an accident.
Gwinnett County fire officials said Kathy Patterson's husband Brent gave inconsistent statements about how the fire happened. In an email to FOX 5, Gwinnett County Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge said the investigation is ongoing.
"The ME's report is one more piece of the puzzle that investigators have to work with as they put together the facts from toxicology reports, autopsies, lab and engineering results from both the public and private sector. These findings are being reviewed by investigators, along with statements made by the lone survivor, Mr. Brent Patterson and the investigator's observations made at the scene," said Captain Rutledge.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said "Dr. Terry's conclusion is premature and not binding on my decision."
Since February investigators have been working to determine exactly what happened the night the Pointer Ridge house went up in flames. Kathy Patterson's husband, Brent Patterson, was also home during the blaze, but escaped. He told detectives he made several attempts to re-enter the home to save his family, but was forced back due to intense heat and flames.
"The fire department’s desire from the beginning of the case has been to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the cause of the fire and the manner of death of three victims," said Captain Rutledge, adding that the department does not have a definitive timeline.
Gwinnett fire officials believe the fire started downstairs, perhaps near an electric reclining chair. Investigators still can't explain the magnitude of destruction and the fast pace of the flames.
Tuesday, demolition crews returned to the scene to tear down the home.