State Fire Marshal believes Mora fire accidental

A preliminary investigation by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) indicates the fatal fire in Mora on Dec. 8 was accidental.

The exact cause will not be known until the fire marshal investigator finalizes the investigation.

Shirley Norling, 68, Michael Caley, 48 and his son, Coleman, 12, were the three victims claimed in the fire.

The apartment fire was located just off Hwy. 65 in the 100 block of Westwood Circle.

SFM investigators believe the fire started in the living room of apartment 2 in the four-unit building. An investigation into the condition of smoke alarms in the building revealed all hardwired smoke detectors in the four apartments were inoperative at the time of the fire.

The preliminary investigation also showed each apartment has a battery operated smoke detector, but three of the four were either removed or had the batteries removed, and only one smoke detector may have been operational.

“In every fire, our investigators look closely at the presence and operability of smoke alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl. “Our statistics tell us that those alarms are a consistent, predictable contributor to survival in structure fires.

“Too often, however, we find smoke alarms are missing or damaged—or the batteries have been removed for other use—and that’s just a chance that’s not worth taking,” he added.

The investigation continues and the case remains open as the SFM determines the exact cause of the fire.