Loved ones seek to learn more about holiday blaze that killed We - Montgomery Alabama news.

Loved ones seek to learn more about holiday blaze that killed West AL couple

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Otis Rogers (Courtesy: Rogers Family) Otis Rogers (Courtesy: Rogers Family)
Dorothy Rogers (Courtesy: Rogers Family) Dorothy Rogers (Courtesy: Rogers Family)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Relatives are speaking out on the anniversary of a horrific fire that claimed the lives of a Marengo County couple during the holidays.

The charred remains of Dorothy and Otis Rogers' home in Sweet Water has been left untouched over the past year as their family members push to know more about what happened the night they died.

The house on Alabama 10 burned down on Thanksgiving 2015.

The couple, beloved in their community, made it to the side door but were unable to escape.

Their daughter, Jerilyn Rogers Harris, says the tragedy of losing both of their parents at the same time has devastated their family.

“It has changed our whole lives,” she said. "We still have a lot of questions. What actually happened here?"

Jerilyn and her sisters,Jennifer Shortt and Camellia Hasan, met at the site of the blaze on the one year anniversary of their parents' deaths. 

They recall speaking to their mother and father on the evening of Nov. 25, the night before Thanksgiving. Then, several hours later, around 11 p.m., they got a call that their parents' home was on fire. Dorothy and Otis Rogers were pronounced dead on Thanksgiving morning.

Their daughters say they were told by officials that the fire started near the front door of their parents' home.

“We have not had the proper grieving. We don't have any answers. We have nothing. It has been a hard, hard year for us,” Jerilyn said. “How could they make it to the door and not get out of the house?”

Jerilyn and her sisters believe something sinister happened to their parents the night they passed away. 

Their father was on the phone with his sister from California and she could hear someone in the background arguing with Dorothy Rogers before the fire.

The couple was not cooking at the time, and fire officials ruled out their wood burning stove as the cause of the fire, according to their daughters.

After the fire, they received a call from a relative in Mobile who asked them if they were aware that their parents' side door, the one they were trying to escape out of, had been kicked in on Nov. 15 in the middle of the night.

"At that point, everything became questionable. Somebody tried to get into our parent's house only days before the fire,” said Jennifer Shortt. “We pulled the ADT records because we hadn't been told about that and it does show that the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m.”

Their aunt also told them that on Nov. 25, she visited the Rogers’ home and noticed that the screen to their door had been cut out.

"Somebody had done that. Our parents didn't do it. It wasn't like that earlier in the day. So everything just became suspicious,” Jennifer said.

“That tells us that someone was preparing and planning to do something,” Jerilyn added.

They say an unknown woman called to report that the fire had reignited after everyone had left the scene on Thanksgiving and reportedly gave responding firefighters a layout of the house.

“We don't know who this lady was or why she would know the layout of the house. Her and supposedly two other people were here going through the debris,” Jerilyn added.

The Rogers’ daughters also say jewelry belonging to her mother later surfaced out in the community.

“That tells us that someone took jewelry from their home before the fire started. This is jewelry that our mom would have had on. She would have been wearing it at the time, earrings and a ring,” Jennifer said.

They learned that there was a rumor circulating in the community that their parents had come into some money.

Their family doesn’t understand why the couple could not get out of their burning home. Dorothy Rogers was in good health and Otis Rogers was on dialysis, but was still able to move about, especially in an emergency situation like a fire.

Their children believe some kind of accelerant was poured around the home and have questions about different aerosol cans that were found on the property and did not belong to their parents. 

The State Fire Marshal’s Office officially classified the cause of the fire as undetermined.

"All of the information that came up at the time that fire occurred has been followed up on," said State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen. "At this point, there's nothing there that we're aware of or that the local officials are aware of that in any way suggests that this was any type of foul play or any criminal type fire."

The case remains under investigation. 

"If we are given or made aware of some information that we have not otherwise had to this point, we, as well as the local officials, will be more than happy to look into that and see where it leads," Pilgreen added. "If anyone knows of anything that we're not currently aware of, please do not hesitate to call this office. Make someone aware of what you think may have occurred and let us look into to it to see if there's any merit to it."

Richard Rogers, president of the South Marengo Fire & Rescue Squad, responded to the scene that night and was frantically looking for the couple to see if he could give them medical attention. Firefighters soon realized they were dealing with a recovery situation and not a rescue. 

"They were very much supportive of our rescue squad. Dorothy loved to hear the communications of our squad and other units. She walked around with a pocket scanner and she had another scanner in the house," he said.

He says the Rogers' deaths took a toll on the community. 

"Whenever we had any kind of fundraisers, they were there for us. We loved them and we love their family. We feel a void losing these two particular people but we did everything we could do as a little volunteer group down here in the country. They were good to our whole area," he added.

For the Rogers’ loved ones, the holidays will never be the same.

"This was something major. We lost two lives and this is probably the biggest thing that's ever happened in Sweet Water," Jennifer said. "The sheriff's department isn't working with the fire department. Nobody is working with anybody."

“We're not going to stop. We're just going to keep asking because we know that something happened to our parents. If somebody knows something, anything at all, please turn it in. Let us know something,” Jerilyn added. "Give us something other than that it's undetermined."

Anyone with information on the deadly Marengo County blaze is asked to the State Fire Marshal's Office at 1-800-654-0775.

The victims' children decided to honor their parents by helping others who've been impacted by a devastating fire this holiday season. They're looking to provide assistance to a family in the Columbus, Georgia area where they live.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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