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  Investigation Results of Ham Hill Fire

On March 4, 2016, the Centralia Police Department and Riverside Fire Authority responded to a house fire in the 900 block of Ham Hill Road in Centralia, Washington. Fire investigators from the Centralia Police Department and Riverside Fire Authority have been diligently investigating what led to the fire that took the lives of three young children.

The autopsy determined that Benjamin, Madeline and Samuel Tower all died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire has been deemed accidental; however the official cause will be classified as undetermined. Throughout the course of the investigation, investigators learned of two possible causes for the fire. At the point of fire origin, there had been a lamp with a compact florescent lightbulb (CFL), this lightbulb could have malfunctioned and caused the fire. No remains of the bulb were found. The other possible cause is the spontaneous combustion of oily towels. The oily towels had been recently laundered and placed in a crate, near the front door, at the point of fire origin.

However, due to the fact that more than one possible cause exists, the cause of this fire is officially ruled undetermined.

For your convenience, a link to the investigative reports and documents has been attached to this press release. If after reading the reports, should you have any questions regarding the investigation, please contact Detective D. Clary at 360-330-7680.

At this time, there is no press conference planned.

The incident report, origin and cause report, and photographs can be obtained from the link to Centralia’s Ham Hill Update Page:


The following redactions have been made pursuant to the listed RCWs:

Dates of Birth, SSN, Driver's License Numbers, Graphic Photos and graphic descriptions, private personal details - RCW 42.56.240(1); RCW 42.56.050; Reid v. Pierce County, 136 Wn.2d 195, 961 P.2d 33 (1998) Specific intelligence information and specific investigative records compiled by investigative, law enforcement, and penology agencies, and state agencies vested with the responsibility to discipline members of any profession, the nonproduction of which is essential for the protection of any person's right to privacy.

Autopsy Records - RCW 68.50.105 & RCW 11.02.005 Reports and records of autopsies or post mortems shall be confidential.

Toxicology reports (deceased subject) - RCW 46.52.065 & RCW 68.50.105 Reports and records of autopsies or post mortems shall be confidential.

Juvenile records - Not Relating to the commission of juvenile offenses - child welfare - RCW 13.50.100; RCW 42.56.070(1); and/or RCW 7.69A.030 Records covered by RCW 13.50.100 and RCW 7.69A related to the rights of child victims and witnesses shall be confidential and shall be released only pursuant to RCW 13.50 and RCW 7.69A


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