Fatal Nineveh fire caused by child playing with candle

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An intense fire that claimed the lives of a Johnson County mother and her two young children last November was determined to be accidental.

The Johnson County coroner released the report Thursday into the deaths of Sirena Abbott, 29, and her two children, Hailey Lynn Slusher-Abbott (18 months) and John Ryan Slusher-Abbott (six months), in Nineveh.

The report found that Hailey had been playing with a candle in the family's living room prior to the fatal fire. Witness interviews helped fire investigators and police confirm the cause of the fire.

Sirena Abbott was able to save one of her children, but was overcome by smoke and flames when she tried to retrieve the two children still inside the home. Flames were shooting up to 60 feet in the air and it took hours for firefighters to put out the fire and finally get to the young victims. Both children died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.

Sirena Abbott died a few days after the fire due to severe burns and other injuries. Her husband was at work at the time of the fire.

"The catastrophic event was a total TEAM effort with all agencies working closely together for a common cause. A heartfelt thank you goes to the Nineveh Community who came forward in the time of need to show their support for the surviving family members. Investigators have closed the case; however we want to keep the family in your thoughts and prayers," the coroner's office said.