A year later, Tucker fire that killed 3 still under investigation

The fire that killed a Tucker woman and her two young daughters remains under investigation a year later, but the district attorney said Friday he is close to making a decision on whether the tragedy was an accident or a crime.

Brent Patterson was the only survivor of the Feb. 9, 2016, fire that killed his wife, Kathy, and the couple’s daughters, Madelyn, 9, and Kayla, 12, in their Pointer Ridge home. Within days of the fire, investigators cited inconsistencies in Patterson’s account of events, but Patterson has never been charged.

“I want to make a decision and either take him off the hook or go forward with the case,” Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said on Friday. “It’s no more fair to him than it is to anyone else to drag this out.”

In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Porter said his office had completed its own investigation and forwarded those findings to an outside expert to review. Porter expects the final report in two to three weeks.

“What makes this so difficult is a lot of the determinations are undetermined,” DA Danny Porter said. “The autopsy, cause of death, manner of death are undetermined. The initial cause of the fire is undetermined.”

The Patterson house was gutted by the fast-burning blaze and ultimately the lot was cleared of the rubble and debris. Now, where the charred frame of the home once stood, a new home is nearly ready for occupants.

On the night of the fire, Kathy Patterson's blood alcohol content was .242 — more than three times the legal limit for those driving, the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office previously said.

The day after the fire, Brent Patterson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was the only person downstairs when he heard an odd sound coming from outside.

“When I opened the front door, the house exploded,” Patterson said.

Patterson doesn’t remember hearing the smoke alarm buzzing upstairs, where his family was. But he yelled for them to get out.

“I couldn’t get back in,” Patterson said. “It was gone.”