Six family members are unaccounted for after a 16,000-square-foot mansion was destroyed by a four-alarm fire Monday morning, Anne Arundel County fire officials confirmed.
"From the family, we know who's unaccounted for," Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Russ Davies said, though he declined to say who specifically could not be located. "If you look at the damage, you know, it would not be a stretch to think that if there were occupants that they did not survive the fire."
Earlier, Davies had said the home's occupants might have been out of town.
An alarm monitoring company and a neighbor who saw flames reported the fire in the 900 block of Childs Point Road about 3:30 a.m., according to Capt. Russ Davies, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames through the first floor, second floor and roof of the home.
“We heard two thuds and this shot of flame went shooting high in the sky, and we thought, Oh my God, what’s that?” neighbor Azalea Leckszas said.
Eighty-five firefighters from the county, the city of Annapolis and other jurisdictions battled the blaze, Davies said. Because there was not a fire hydrant in the area, firefighters shuttled water tankers to the site and stationed a fire boat at a pier near the property to bring in water.
The intensity of the fire, the size of the house and the failure of the roof and floors prevented firefighters from searching the structure, Davies said.
The home, which resembled a castle, was owned by IT executive and philanthropist Don Pyle, chief operating officer of ScienceLogic, and his wife, Sandra.
The fire was brought under control about 7 a.m., Davies said, but firefighters were still putting out hot spots at noon.
Pictures from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department show just the frame of the home standing as flames continue to burn. The home appears to be a total loss.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending 15-20 agents to investigate because of the size and scope of the scene, News4's Darcy Spencer reported. They will begin their work Wednesday morning.
Special Agent David Cheplak, a spokesman for the ATF's Baltimore field office, said local fire officials asked for help.
"The Anne Arundel County Fire Department had asked for our assistance, and so we've activated our national response team, which is a team comprised of special agents, certified fire investigators from across the country, and they respond to large-scale fires nationally," Cheplak said.
Cheplak said there was no evidence at this point of foul play.
According to state property records, the two-story house was built in 2005 and had seven bedrooms.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time.