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Cause of deadly Elkhart Co. fire could be released today

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:25:54 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 17 2013 06:27:40 AM CST

The State Fire Marshal's office is trying to figure out what caused a deadly mobile home fire near Bristol Monday. A mother and her son were killed. WSBT's Kelli Stopczynski has the latest.

The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department says 67-year-old Crissinda Kabay – friends called her “Cindy” – and her son, 42-year-old Chad Russell, were found dead near the entrance of their mobile home after a fire Monday morning.

A 3-year-old dog was also killed.

This happened in the Timberbrook mobile home park just off County Road 120, right across the street from the Elkhart County Humane Society near Bristol.

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There is significant damage to the structure.

One neighbor, who is also friends with the victims, told WSBT he got a phone call from one of the victim’s family members around 7 this morning saying their Life Alert had been activated and he needed to go check on them.

When he looked out his window, he says he saw flames shooting about 10 feet in the air. So he ran over and frantically tried to help.

“It shocked me,” said Brian Sarber. “I mean, I ran over there like Oh my God. Then I called 911. Of course they’d already been called, but they weren’t here yet, you know. Then I ran around trying to get indoors, and I couldn’t get indoors to hopefully pull someone out – and there was just nothing I could do. It was too far gone.”

That family friend told me he did hear smoke detectors going off inside the home. He also says Cindy was on oxygen because of health problems. And another neighbor heard several small explosions.

Investigators won’t confirm that had anything to do with what happened there Monday morning.

The Bristol fire chief says they’ve been called there once before for a fire caused by an oxygen tank.

After leaving the scene Monday morning, the neighbor said he broke the news to Cindy's husband, who is in a local nursing home.

It’s an incredibly sad day for this family and their loved ones, especially nine days away from Christmas.

Bob Chupp lost his mom and half-brother in the blaze. Just before noon, he walked to his car, cradling their 3-year-old dog in his arms.

"It's gonna be real hard," Chupp said. "The biggest thing is to be with family and appreciate your family. You never know when you're gonna lose them. Just appreciate your family while you can."

The state fire marshal is investigating and is expected to release findings on Tuesday.