The head of a Reston cybersecurity firm, his wife and four grandchildren are confirmed to have died in the blaze that destroyed an Annapolis-area mansion.
Don and Sandy Pyle and their grandchildren Charlotte, Katie, Lexi and Wes Boone, who ranged in age from 6 to 8, were positively identified by the Anne Arundel County medical examiner, officials announced this afternoon.
The blaze that reduced the Pyles’ $6 million home to rubble was caused by an electrical failure that set a 15-foot Christmas tree alight within minutes, Anne Arundel County Fire and Police chief Allan Graves at a press conference. The tree had been cut more than 60 days prior to the overnight fire Jan. 19.
“When they’re dry, they burn quickly,” Graves said, noting investigators were still working to identify other factors that may have contributed to the size and speed of the accidental fire.
Fire alarms sounded in the Pyles’ home about 3:30 a.m., federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Bill McMullan said. Authorities were notified within three minutes.
“It’s a tragic accident that occurred at the absolute worst possible time — when the Pyles and their grandchildren were sleeping,” he said.
The family was previously announced to be missing, and then presumed dead.
Donald Pyle, 56, was hired last fall as chief operating officer at ScienceLogic, a Reston-based firm that monitors networks for private and government clients, including the Department of Defense.
He was remembered on his company’s website as having a “vivacious spirit, thirst for life, and love of family.”
“Humble and brilliant, Don possessed a special leadership quality that lifted others to seek accomplishments beyond what they originally thought possible,” the statement from ScienceLogic CEO David Link said.
Photo: Firefighters at home of Reston-based ScienceLogic CEO Donald Pyle. Photo via AP/Capital Gazette, Glenn A. Miller
Anne Arundel County(Md.) fire officials said Tuesday that fire continues to smolder in the lower level of the 16,000-square-foot home belonging to Donald Pyle, Chief Operating Officer of Reston’s ScienceLogic.
Pyle, 55, his wife and four grandchildren remain missing after the blaze completely destroyed the $6.2-million mansion near Annapolis early on Monday. More than 85 firefighters were called to the four-alarm fire.
Anne Arundel County fire investigator Robert Howarth said the six will remain classified as “missing and unaccounted for” until investigators see evidence that they were killed in the fire.
Investigators have not yet been able to enter the home to look for victims due to the active fire and the lack of necessary machinery to lift giant support beams that fell into the basement, Howarth said.
“They are officially missing,” he said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “We do not declare anyone deceased until we know for sure and recover evidence. … There are six people unaccounted for — and we still do not have 100 percent proof they are in the house. But the house is where we will focus [the investigation].’
Howarth said the fire is being investigated as a crime scene, mainly because there are no witnesses as to how to fire started.
Officials said there are unique challenges in searching a 16,000-square-foot home and that the investigation is more like a commercial fire investigation. They will be bringing in heavy equipment on Tuesday that will enable crews to remove and inspect debris, as well as search for victims. The investigation could take several days, department spokesman Russ Davies said.
Donald Pyle was hired last fall as chief operating officer at ScienceLogic, a cybersecurity company that monitors networks for private and government clients, including the Department of Defense.
Firefighters at the remains of home belonging to Reston-based exec Donald Pyle/Credit: NBC News via Twitter
The Chief Operating Officer of a Reston cybersecurity firm and his family are among the missing people after a four-alarm fire at his Anne Arundel County home on Monday morning.
Firefighters responded to a 3:30 a.m. alarm at the 16,000-square-foot home on Childs Point Road in Annapolis, The Washington Post reported. It took 85 firefighters several hours to control the blaze.
The $6.2 million home was purchased by Donald and Sandra Pyle in 2005, the Post reported that property records show.
Donald Pyle was hired last fall as chief operating officer at ScienceLogic, a Reston-based cybersecurity company that monitors networks for private and government clients, including the Department of Defense.
The family of six was still unaccounted for Monday evening, investigators said. Pyle was believed to have been at home with his wife and four grandchildren, WJLA reported.
Yama Habibzai, a spokesman for ScienceLogic, which is located at 10700 Parkridge Blvd. in Reston, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that there was a fire at Pyle’s home early Monday and the case is under investigation. He said the company had no further comment.
By Monday evening, crews had to suspend the search, The Baltimore Sun reported. Crews will return to the scene Tuesday with special equipment.
The Sun also reported that fire officials said there is a chance Pyle and his family may be out of town, however they have gotten no response when trying to reach them via cell phone.
Photo: Firefighters at blaze at home of Reston-based ScienceLogic CEO Donald Pyle/Credit: AP /Capital Gazette, Glenn A. Miller