Aerial photos show what remains of the Indian Hill home (FOX19)
Photo from Stratus Helicopters day of fire
INDIAN HILL, OH (FOX19) -
It's an image most of us cannot forget. A $4 million home in Indian Hill burning to the ground.
One year later, investigators are still trying to answer the question was it an accident or was it arson?
It took Jeffrey Decker three years to build his family's dream home. A 22-room, 10,000 square foot mansion in Indian Hill. But on Jan. 10, 2014, his sons away at school and his wife on vacation, Decker told officials he left his home to go out to lunch. Hours later, his house was up in flames.
The first 911 call came in just after 3 p.m:
911 Operator: 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch.
Caller 1: Uh..hi..there is a fire across the street.
Another caller reports seeing the house burning.
Caller 2: Yes, the house is on fire. I'm looking at it right now burn
911 Operator: Okay, and what is your address?
Caller 2: It's not an empty lot, it's a, it's a home.
The smoke could be seen from as far away as Milford and Loveland. Firefighters estimate the flames reached more than 30 feet high. Tanker trucks brought in thousands of gallons of water but it was too late. When the flames were out, only the ashes of a $4 million mansion remained.
"I think the big factor with this case is it was in a high profile suburban Cincinnati neighborhood, a newer home in broad daylight. That is the kicker,” said Chief Josh Hobbs who leads the investigation division of the Ohio State Fire Marshal's office.
Hobbs' team has been digging through the Indian Hill fire for a full year now but the cause remains undetermined.
"The investigation is still ongoing because there are so many entities involved,” said Hobbs.
The state fire marshal's office is working alongside ATF and the insurance company to figure how the fire started and why. It is a process that is taking much longer than an average investigation.
"The insurance industry is very interested in figuring out what happened, pulling out all the stops, testing anything they can potentially test because that loss is pushing $20 million. No one is going to drop that dime really quickly,” said Hobbs.
A $20 million insurance payout would be one of the largest residential insurance claims in the country for 2014, Hobbs says. It is a fact that naturally adds some suspicion. Arson and insurance fraud have not been ruled out.
On Monday, what is left of the home that burned nearly one year ago is still standing but Hobbs says an answer to what caused the destruction could be around corner.
"At some point in the near future which I predict to be in the next 4 to 6 weeks, everyone involved in the investigation will come to a table and say we're done, we're done, we're done, where do we stand?" said Hobbs.
FOX19 NOW reached out to the Decker Family and their attorney for a comment but so far we have not received a response.