Investigators are expected to begin the search Wednesday for a man and a woman and their four grandchildren who have been missing since a fire tore through the Annapolis-area mansion relatives say they were in when it burned to the ground.Crews brought in a heavy crane and other equipment on Tuesday to help in the search Authorities say tons of steel will have to be moved before a search can be conducted in the basement of the mansion on Childs Point Road, which burned to the ground.
Late Tuesday morning, workers moved branches and wires so the heavy-duty crane could make its way to the mansion. The crane will be used to hoist large pieces of steel out of the basement of the house, which is equal to the size of five standard homes.
Anne Arundel County Fire Captain Robert Howarth says the house is 16,000 square feet, and everything it was made of has fallen into the basement, including steel beams that weigh several tons. Late Tuesday morning, a fire was still burning in the basement.
"Over the next day or so, we hope to be able to move some of the debris so we can get the investigators in there and find the unaccounted-for victims," he said.
Investigators have stopped just short of saying they expect to find the bodies of Don and Sandy Pyle and their four grandchildren inside the ruins of the home. But at this time, there is no other explanation for their whereabouts.
Investigators will not disclose the ages of the children who are missing, but the school they attend, with grades pre-k through 5, was closed Tuesday so their classmates could grieve.
Officials say they were first alerted to the fire around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning by a company that monitors an alarm at the house. Per standard procedure, they are treating the grounds and ruins of the house as a crime scene because they have no witnesses who can say where and how the fire started.
Property records show the multimillion dollar home is owned by the Pyles. Don Pyle is an entrepreneur who has started and sold several high-tech businesses in recent years. He is now the chief operating officer of Reston,Va.-based Science Logic.
Neighbor Caroline Wugofski tells FOX 5 the couple was putting the infrastructure in place for a smart house, and they had been working on it for months. She described the Pyles as lovely people.
"This leaves a big hole," Wugofski said. "They were part of our little family here. We are a close neighborhood."
Signs at the front gate of the house warn of attack dogs roaming the property and a surveillance camera is mounted on the left side of the front gate. But Wugofski said she couldn't imagine anyone wanting to harm the Pyles.
Fire officials say the gate outside was always left open. They wouldn't comment on whether anything on the property was amiss, or missing-- including any cars.
Wugofski also said the Pyle's two sons came to the house Monday, along with another relative. So far, no family members have commented on what may have happened. Fire officials say they expect to be investigating for several days.