Deadly fire investigation could take longer than usual

(WISH photo/John LeSage)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Fire investigators say it may take a longer time than usual to determine what caused a fire Saturday that killed a family of six.

Indianapolis Fire Department Spokesperson Rita Reith said witnesses usually play a key role in helping find a cause and origin, but because there are no living witnesses, this case may take more time.

“While they don’t believe foul play was involved, (investigators) must work to eliminate all possible causes of which there are many possibilities,” Reith said in a statement on Monday.

The fire broke out about 9 a.m. Saturday in the 2100 block of Olney Street near Keystone Avenue and Interstate 70.

Lionel “Leo” and Brandy Guerra along with their children, Esteban, 11, and Blanquita, 8,  died Saturday. The two other children, identified as Miranda, 14, and Fuentes, 6,  died Sunday at Riley Hospital for Children.

“I was just devastated,” said Robin Douglas, who used to live behind the family. “All those kids were so laughable and they loved to talk.”

All four children attended Lighthouse Academy Charter School where grief counselors were on hand Monday.

Douglas said the children’s father was a hard worker despite battling health problems.

“He got up and worked even though he was on that oxygen. He was a great guy, great dad,” Douglas said.

“We’d just like to thank the community for all the prayers and support,” said Leo’s brother, Gilbert on Sunday. “It’s been tremendous and overwhelming … we’re continuing to trust in God and we’re believing God. We’re riding it out all the way to the end. We know He is in control.”

A makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, flowers, candles and balloons continued to grow outside the home Monday as friends, family members, and even strangers stopped by to pay their respects.

“It’s just sad,” said Al McKeller, who was one of the passersby who called 911 Saturday.

He and his wife wanted to visit the memorial Monday.

“Life is short,” he said.

Sometimes too short.

Extended family members set up a fund to help pay for funeral expenses. Donations may be made to the Guerra Charitable Final Arrangement Trust at Chase Bank. A phone number, 317-870-9673, has been set up for anyone who needs information about the trust fund, funeral arrangements, words of encouragement and non-monetary donations. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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