CLEVELAND (AP) — A medical examiner on Tuesday identified the two adults from a family of four who died when their suburban home exploded and caught fire but was still working to confirm the identities of their daughters.
No cause of death had been determined for Jeffrey and Cynthia Mather, 43-year-olds from Northfield Center Township. The Mathers’ daughters were ages 8 and 12; their names were withheld.
Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office combed through the charred wreckage on Tuesday to determine what caused the explosion, which neighbors said shook homes throughout their development. Northfield Center Township fire Chief Frank Risko said the Mathers’ house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived shortly after 8:30 p.m. Monday, minutes after the blast.
Risko also said that the explosion at the home, about 20 miles south of downtown Cleveland, didn’t appear to have been caused by a natural gas leak.
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The bodies of Cynthia Mather and her two daughters were found on the first floor near the front of the house. Jeffrey Mather’s body was found on the first floor at the back of the home.
Property records show that homes in the development were built in the mid-1990s. The Mathers bought their home in 2007.
Neighbor Randy Nickschinski, who lives two doors away, told Cleveland.com that he and his son, Nate, rushed to the house and kicked in the front door, allowing the family’s dog to escape. Nickschinski, his son and another neighbor went inside and yelled for the family, but no one answered.
“There was a lot of fire, a lot of debris,” Nickschinski said. “We were yelling, and nothing. We were just looking everywhere.”
Nickschinski’s daughter, Danielle, said she had baby-sat for the two girls.
“They were very outgoing and nice,” she said. “They always wanted to play.”
The Akron Beacon Journal reported that the Mathers attended Rock Community Church in Garfield Heights, where Jeffrey Mather was a deacon.