Investigators continue to search for cause of fatal fire in Batavia

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB)- The scene of a fatal house fire in Batavia is now an empty lot. The landlord had the home demolished shortly after the fire broke out.

The damage was extensive, and he told News 4 he didn’t want the family to have to see the place where they lost their two young boys.

Michael and Micah Bard were inside the home alone at the time of the fire; they never made it out.

The investigation into the cause of that fire is still ongoing. Genesee County officials believe it started in or near the boys’ bedroom, but that’s about it.

Getting to the bottom of what happened the night of May 20, has been a challenge according to Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster.

“Usually we are pretty adept at isolating the cause and then using that to further whatever investigation it may turn out to be,” he said.

But uncooperative witnesses, and not knowing the cause of this fire, has put a hitch in the investigation.

“Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it’s criminal, sometimes we don’t know. And this particular case, was a we don’t know,” Brewster told News 4.

25-year-old Heather Ace is charged with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor.

“She is not charged with either setting the fire or otherwise being directly responsible for their death. She is charged with acting in a manner that is likely to be injurious to their well being,” explained Genesee County District Attorney, Lawrence Friedman.

Joe Burke owned the home Ace was renting and the one next door to it. He said he was planning to evict her prior to the fire.

“There was a lot of traffic coming and going and I didn’t like it very well. So I told the Ace’s it was time to move on,” Burke said.

He was heartbroken when he drove up to the scene that night; he remembers seeing the boys outside playing in their yard.

Electrical has been ruled out as a possible cause, and arson is not on the table at this point.

Chief Deputy Brewster said because the cause of that fire is still unknown, the book remains open.

“Until we can do that and I can out that to bed, I can’t say with any certainty that this is the only charges that are going to come from the death of these two boys,” Brewster told News 4.

Ace is due in court October 3.

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