COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — A live Christmas tree and fireplace embers are to blame for a deadly Collierville house fire in December, according to the Collierville Fire Marshal’s Office.
The house fire where three children and one adult died was able to spread because of easily combustible items in the living room: a live Christmas tree, presents and ordinary living room furniture. After the fire originated on the first floor, it was able to spread to the second floor of the house by way of a staircase.
Firefighters were called the to house at 686 Autumn Winds Drive on Dec. 23. Cole Coudriet, 13, called dispatchers, and he and his father Dannny, 49, were able to escape the house with assistance from neighbors before firefighters arrived.
When firefighters entered the second floor of the house, they found three children, all pronounced deceased, who were later identified as Sharron, Joy and Aaron Naik and were visiting the Coudriets during the holidays. The last victim, 46-year-old Kari Coudriet, was discovered deceased shortly after.
Embers from the masonry fireplace caught nearby items on fire: the live tree, wrapped presents and regular living room furniture. Collierville Fire officials said the Christmas tree was a major sources of fuel for the fire, producing a thick, black smoke.
The only activated smoke alarm was on the hallway of the second floor, according to survivors. It is unknown if the alarm went off too late to successfully allow the other occupants to escape the house, and the two survivors both escaped out of a second floor window.
Officials said early escape was nearly impossible due to the fast-moving fire and no working smoke alarm on the first floor.