INDIAN HILL, Ohio – Smoke and flames have given way to questions as the investigation into the cause of a fire at a $4 million home lingers on.
On Sunday, arson investigators sifted through the wreckage at the lot in the 9600 block of Cunningham Road where the palatial estate stood until Friday afternoon. Investigators are waiting for excavation equipment to help them determine what happened.
More than 80 firefighters worked to put out the Jan. 10 blaze that swallowed the 10,000 square-foot residence in 30 feet high flames and belched up black smoke that could be seen from as far away as Kenwood and Loveland.
The home is a total loss.
"Please pray for my family, you will soon see on the news that our home has burned down and there is nothing left of our possessions,” wrote Chase Decker, 20, the son of the homeowners, Maria and J.R. Decker.
PHOTOS: Scene of Indian Hill fire
Besides the initial spark that started the blaze, miscommunication between dispatch and first responders, a lack of ample water on site where the house sat and no sprinkler system helped to fan flames.
"The one lesson is if you're building a house and you can ... if you want to sprinkle it ... that kind of puts a firefighter there all the time to put water on the fire, but this house was not sprinkled so we didn't have that advantage," explained Capt. Clarence Smith of the Madeira-Indian Hill Fire District.
The fire district also lacked the advantage of public fire hydrants and close proximity to the road. The Deckers' property did have a private hydrant installed, but the device’s water reservoir was quickly depleted.
"I at first thought the woods were on fire behind my house," said Paula Maxwell, who lived behind the house.
Paula’s husband, Paul, was just grateful it was not a windy day.
"It borders the woods you can see, and luckily it's not a windy day," he said. "It's wet so we're hoping that it will be contained."
The dampness might have protected neighbors, but the lack of water fighting the fire only hampered crews as they watched the flames spread while waiting for a tanker relay system to arrive.
Multiple fire departments were called in to deliver loads of water by truck. Crews would unload that water into catch basins, and then use engines to pump the water down the driveway - a quarter-mile to the house.
As of Sunday night, investigators were unsure when they would determine a cause for the fire, but there was a small blessing among the ruins.
“Thankfully everyone is safe including our dogs....” wrote Chase.
WCPO reporters Bryce Anslinger and Brendan Keefe contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The Cincinnati Cyclones' postseason march to the Kelly Cup begins Thursday night in Orlando.
A vehicle was stolen from Dayton, Ky. and the driver crashed it into a Union Township home Thursday morning after a police chase.
This time of year, high school seniors are deciding where to go to college. For many young women and their parents, the issue of campus…
Fifth Third Bancorp says its first-quarter net income fell 25 percent, mostly on a decline in its investment in its former Vantiv…
A wrap-up of local stories happening Thursday, April 17, 2014.
There are an estimated 680 unfilled local manufacturing jobs, according to the Northern Kentucky Industrial Park Industry Partnership.…
Kings Island is set to open Friday and this year park organizers are preparing to give visitors a real scream.
A new Kroger Marketplace opens Thursday in Northern Kentucky. But what does that mean for its old store, right next door?
A man called authorities from a Brown County home Friday to report another man shooting a gun under the same roof, and both men were arrested.
Students, street artists and community activists made their way to the campus of Northern Kentucky University to raise money for a good cause…