Both the grill and fire pit were located on the large wooden deck. All of the adults were also smoking cigarettes on the deck.
A wood deck and various potential ignitibles were once again factors that combined for a fire that killed four children at Lake of the Ozarks.
In less than three years, the region has seen two fires that resulted in the death of a total of eight children — four in each incident.
A final investigative report by the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office reviewed the recent fire in the Lake Ozark area that killed 14-year-old Tyler Otto, eight-year-old Cason Otto, five-year-old Max Otto and four-year-old Levi Otto. The brothers were alone in their mother Christina Brazil’s residence at 1636 Carol Road when the fire started sometime in the overnight hours between April 18 to April 19, 2018.
A neighbor reported the fire, and Lake Ozark firefighters were dispatched to the scene shortly before 1 a.m. April 19. The incident report shows the time of the fire as 12:51 a.m. with the request for investigation to the fire marshal’s office made at 1:30 a.m.
Firefighters reported to state fire marshals that heavy fire was coming from the south side of the structure upon their arrival. Due to the amount of fire, they initially employed a defensive attack on the flames, then once under control, they entered the structure in an attempt to locate victims.
The fire marshals’ report references the wood deck multiple times and concludes, based on the level of charring and damage, that the lower level deck on the south side of the two-level building was the area of origin for the fire with the flames then moving north into the structure.
A photograph obtained by one of the firefighters from the neighbor to the east, who reported the fire, showed heavy fire at the deck and rear of the home with fire moving up the hill to the northeast from burning leaves. Investigators noted ankle-deep leaves around the house.
Examination of the deck area revealed the charred remains of a metal fire pit with several rust holes in it, the report states. The charred remains of a barbecue grill were also found in this area.
According to information provided by Christina Brazil’s boyfriend Mike Andrews, the Trager pellet grill had been used that evening to cook for the family and a small gathering of friends. They had also had a fire in the fire pit over the course of the evening.
Both the grill and fire pit were located on the large wooden deck, Andrews confirmed.
He also told one of the state fire marshals that all of the adults were drinking and were smoking cigarettes outside on the deck.
According to Christina Brazil, they used a glass ashtray while smoking. She also told an investigator that there were two fuel cans on the wood deck, but both of them should have had little to no fuel inside.
Andrews told an investigator that around 8:30 p.m. the group finished eating and the adults decided to go to a local bar. With two remaining logs in the fire pit still burning, he said he grabbed a pitcher full of water and threw it on them.
The adults left the boys at the residence. While at the bar, Andrews said they attempted to call the oldest boy, Tyler, on his cell phone to check in. The call went to Tyler’s voicemail, and Andrews said they were never able to reach him.
The time of the call or calls is not specified in the report.
Andrews and Brazil got a cab to take them home, arriving at the residence sometime after 12:51 a.m. as the fire trucks were already on scene.
The report noted that smoke detectors were present in the residence, but no information is provided on where they might have been located or whether they were believed to have been operational.
One of the fire investigators noted that Brazil was emotionally distraught during her interview on April 19 and he had a difficult time obtaining information as a result.
It should be remembered that four children under the age of five were killed in a condominium fire in Osage Beach in the evening hours of August 4, 2015 from a fire that originated on the fourth floor of the four-story building’s wooden breezeway. Kairi Helton, 2, Zeza Bradshaw, 2, Lee Ann Hendrickson, 4, and Joshua Hendrickson, 5, were killed while Kairi Helton’s father Jacob Helton, who was watching the children, escaped after attempting and failing to put out the flames outside the front door of the condo unit. A Folger’s coffee can used for cigarette butts, reported as occasionally smoking, and an air conditioning condensing unit reported in this location were listed as possible ignition sources by the state fire marshal’s office.
Osage Beach Fire Protection District subsequently established new restrictions on possible ignition sources on decks of multi-story, multi-unit structures.
Charcoal grills were banned while gas grills are now required to be located at the farthest point away from the condo/apartment-type structure, along the railing. If there are sidewalls on decks or balconies separating each unit, then the grills must be in the center of the deck along the railing.No more than two 20-pound cylinders can be on the deck at any given time, and a fire extinguisher must be present.
Other restrictions related to ignitibles on decks, besides grills, were also considered by the district, but were ultimately not adopted.