The three children who were trapped in a burning townhouse in Cecil County a week ago died of smoke inhalation, according to a preliminary investigation by the state fire marshal's office.
Bruce D. Bouch, a deputy fire marshal, said Friday that investigators "have a couple of hypotheses" about the cause of the fire but were waiting to speak with the children's 29-year-old mother, Jewel Johnson, when she is well enough, perhaps early next week. Johnson was badly burned in the fire and is being treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for smoke inhalation and burns on at least 17 percent of her body.
There will be a viewing for the children — Shaina Crossan, 7; James Crossan Jr., 6, known as Tucker; and Adin Crossan, 5 — at 6 p.m. Monday at the Crouch Funeral Home, 127 South Main St., North East. They will be buried Tuesday at the Oxford Cemetery in Oxford, Pa., where the children's grandparents live and where their surviving brother, Travis, 10, was staying at the time of the fire.
Friends were trying to raise money for the Crossan family this week and have set up a trust at PNC Bank. The immediate concern was the cost of the children's burial, and the funeral home pledged to make it easier.
"We're getting a few things donated, like some money for the funeral expenses," said Patty DeMond, an administrative assistant at the funeral home. "We're taking care of the family."
The fire was reported at 3:27 a.m. May 15 in the Crossans' home, one in a row of seven townhouses on Cedar Hill Circle in North East. Rescuers reached Johnson after she had made her way to a neighboring home, but the three children were found dead.
Maria Lagdameo, a neighbor, said she later heard Johnson screaming, "My babies! My babies!"