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Deadly mobile home fire near Bristol unintentional, but inquiry continues

The office of Indiana State Fire Marshal James Greeson is assisting in the investigation into the mobile home fire near Bristol that killed two.
Posted on Dec. 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 17, 2013 at 4:50 p.m.

BRISTOL — The Indiana Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting in the investigation into the deadly mobile home fire near Bristol on Monday, which a fire official labeled unintentional.

Otherwise, officials said little on Tuesday, Dec. 17, a day after the blaze, which killed 42-year-old Chad Russell. Russell’s mother, Cindy Kabay, 67, died of natural causes, according to the Elkhart County Coroner’s Office, presumably in the lead-up to the fire.

There will be no official release of “cause and origin” into the blaze until the inquiry is complete, said Fred Genslinger, the assistant chief at the Bristol Fire Department. That could take three to four days.

However, Genslinger said the fire appeared to be “unintentional” and that foul play was not suspected. An Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department statement on Monday echoed that.

State fire marshal’s office officials generally get involved in a fire investigation when a death occurs, if a local department doesn’t have the resources to conduct an inquiry, according to John Erickson, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. In this case, he said the Bristol Fire Department sought assistance.

Because fatalities were involved, Elkhart County sheriff’s officials are also involved, according to the department.

The fire was called in around 7 a.m. Monday and Bristol firefighters and several other local fire departments responded. Russell died of carbon monoxide poisoning and both his and Kabay’s bodies were found inside the mobile home, near the entrance of the residence, at the Timberbrook Mobile Home Park.

WNDU reported that Bristol firefighters responded to a call at the mobile home before, for a fire caused by smoking while using oxygen, and Bob Chupp, Kabay’s son, noted on Monday an earlier fire over the summer at his mother’s home, which was extinguished relatively quickly.

According to Russell’s obituary from Elkhart Cremation Services, a memorial service for the man will be held at a later date. The obituary said he worked in the recreational vehicle industry most of his life and enjoyed working with his hands and restoring a 1978 Grand Prix automobile.


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