Fire investigators are back at the scene of a devastating Atlanta suburb house fire that killed a mother and her two daughters.
The father was able to escape the burning home but told WSB-TV that he could not make it back in to save the rest of his family.
Investigators showed up at the house around 10 a.m. Thursday with a backhoe to take another look at the charred remains.
Brent Patterson said that he was putting his two daughters, ages 12 and 9, to sleep on Feb. 9 when he heard a popping sound.
He went downstairs to check it out and was forced out of the house by the flames. He and neighbors tried to rescue his wife, Kathy, and the kids, but could not. All three died in the fire.
“I couldn't get back in," Patterson said. "There's nothing I could do. I mean, they are dead. My whole life is over. My whole life is over."
When Gwinnett County Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge was asked if he still believed the fire was an accident, he said the investigation is still active.
“Well, right now, it is still an open and active investigation. So at the time, when we released, at the time, we believed the fire was accidental," Rutledge said. "We are still looking at all aspects of the case, and we are looking at all angles of the case."
Fire and district attorney’s investigators, along with the representatives of the family’s insurance company, were on the scene most of the day Thursday going through what remained of the house, trying to figure out what caused the fire.
It has been reported that invesigators said Patterson "fed the fire" by opening doors and windows.
Investigators think Patterson should've known what to do as a Navy veteran.
"The very magnitude of this case warrants this type of response and this type of investigation," Rutledge said. "You have a fatal fire. There are other outside agencies that are brought in.”
Neighbors said they will be happy when the answers are found and the lot is cleared, because the night of the fire still haunts their memories.
"It’s not easy to cross everyday over there and see the house and remember all the things that happened," neighbor Aurelo Martinez said.
Investigators carried out bags of potential evidence but would not say what they found.
Crews said as soon as investigators are done on site, they plan on tearing what remains of the structure down.
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