The investigation by the Columbia Police and Columbia Fire Departments into the residential structure fire at 2706 Quail Drive that occurred on May 26, 2017 has concluded. Autopsy results received from the Boone County Medical Examiner's Office indicate the manner of death of four-year-old Zadrian Harper is accidental.
Columbia Fire and Columbia Police personnel responded to the address shortly after 12:18 p.m. on May 26, 2017 for the residential structure fire. At the time of the fire there was one adult and four children in the residence. The adult occupant and three children exited safely. Harper was located in a bedroom by fire crews and transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Harper succumbed to his injuries while at the hospital and was pronounced dead by medical personnel.
Assistant Fire Marshal Joel Pauley has determined the fire originated in a sofa in the living room of the residence. The cause of the fire was a child playing with a lighter. The Columbia Police and Columbia Fire Departments have completed a thorough investigation of this incident, and after conferring with the Boone County Prosecutor's Office, it has been determined that no criminal charges will be sought in this case.
The death of Harper is a tragedy. Every year nationwide, thousands of fires are started by children playing with fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on average this results in 80 deaths and over 800 injuries. The Columbia Fire Department reminds citizens they offer a free, confidential education program for children who show curiosity about fire or who have started a fire.
The Juvenile Fire Setter Program engages children's interest and is informative for caregivers. This program involves an assessment of the child's fire safety needs, age-appropriate activities individualized to help children learn about being safe around fire, information for caregivers on how to keep their whole family safe, and lots of fun! For those children who would benefit from additional help, referrals are available for behavioral health services.
The Columbia Fire Department also provides a variety of age-appropriate fire safety presentations to include: information on home fire escape plans, stop, drop, and roll, and cooking safety. For more information regarding these programs or to get signed up, please contact the Fire Marshal's Division at (573) 874-7556.