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Deadly Tamarack cabin fire ruled an accident

Photos courtesy @AlanPartridgeII and Sarah Whipple

It's been more than two months since a fire ripped through a cabin near Tamarack Resort that killed four people, including two adults and two children.

On Thursday, the Idaho state fire marshal, Knute Sandahl, announced in a press conference that the fire started when one of the adults attempted to start a fire in a propane-fueled fireplace at the cabin.

A valve releasing the propane was opened, but when the person used a piece of paper to light the fire, the fireplace exploded. Investigators believe the valve was open for several minutes before the explosion.

Sandahl says that the fireplace had been converted to a wood-burning system at some point in the past, but the propane system was still installed.

The conversion to a wood-burning system created a small empty area behind the new fireplace, and investigators believe that when the valve for propane was turned on, the gas filled the empty area, which contributed to explosion.

Sandahl says the explosion and fire have been determined to be an accident.

Four people were killed in the June 30 fire including Erin Smith, 34, her 6-year-old daughter Autumn, and 49-year-old James Harper III and his 14-year-old James (John) Harper.

Smith made history last year when she graduated from the Army's M1 Armor Crewman School. Smith was the first woman in history to graduate and be put on the path to be a member of a four-person tank crew.


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