Cardboard boxes may have started deadly house fire in Orrington, Maine

Maine Fire Marshals have blamed cardboard boxes stored too close to a stove for a fire that killed a father and his three children in Orrington.

Benjamin Johnson III, 30, was killed in the blaze, along with his children, sons Ben and Ryan, 9 and 4, and daughter, 8-year-old Leslie, WMTW News 8 reported.

The children's mother, Christine Johnson, 31, escaped the fire and was at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Autopsy results show the four family members died from smoke inhalation, according to the State Medical Examiner's Office.

The family had returned from a night of bowling Friday and started the wood-burning stove, located in a first-floor living room.

WABI TV 5 cited officials as saying that the bodies of the three children were found on the floor of a second story bedroom while their father's body was recovered at the head of the stairs on the second floor.

A container of lighter fluid found near the stove may have helped the fire spread once ignited. 

The Associated Press said officials were blaming cardboard boxes stored near the stove for the deadliest fire in 20 years in the state.

In 1992, a baby and three adults were killed in a fire — blamed on arson —  in Portland, the AP added.