Lower North Fork Fire Victims' Deaths Ruled Accidental

Ann Appel's Exact Cause Of Death Not Determined

Coroner's officials have ruled the deaths of three people in a fast-moving wildfire in Jefferson county last March as accidental.

Jefferson County coroner's officials said 77-year-old Sam Lucas and his 76-year-old wife, Linda Lucas, died from smoke-inhalation and exposure to flames from the fire.

Deputy Coroner Carl Blesch told The Denver Post it is likely that smoke from the fire rendered the couple unconscious before flames reached them. One of them was found in the burned house and the other was found just outside the house, in the driveway.

Blesch said another victim, 51-year-old Ann Appel, died from exposure to the wildfire, but her exact cause of death couldn't be determined because of the condition of her remains.

The fire exploded March 26 when embers from a controlled burn that was conducted days earlier flared up in high winds during a Red Flag Warning. The fire destroyed or damaged 23 homes.

The state legislature is considering bills to compensate the victims of the fire because the controlled burn was conducted by the Colorado State Forest Service.

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