Faulty electrical circuit blamed in fatal Louisiana fire

Posted: Nov. 2, 2013 7:09 pm Updated: Nov. 23, 2013 7:15 pm


LOUISIANA, Mo. -- Preliminary findings point to a faulty electrical circuit as the cause of a fatal house fire early Thursday morning in Louisiana.

The fire claimed the life of 3-year-old Riley Jeffrey Rieser.

A candlelight vigil in his memory was held Saturday night on the riverfront.

City Administrator Bob Jenne said firefighters were called to 405 S. Main at 12:58 a.m. and saw "a lot of fire" coming from the back end of the residence.

Riley was asleep in a bedroom, and Ryan and Catherine Miller -- Riley is Ryan Miller's stepson -- had fallen asleep watching television in a back living room area off the kitchen. Smoke woke Catherine Miller, who woke up her husband. He grabbed her cell phone to call 911, then tried to get in the kitchen to the hallway to Riley's bedroom, but "there was so much smoke and flames he couldn't get through," Jenne said. "They made it out through a rear door, came around front and were waiting on police and fire to get there."

While firefighters started to knock down the fire, Ryan Miller kicked in the front door and tried to enter the burning residence. Police tried to restrain Ryan Miller, who became combative, Jenne said, and an officer used a stun gun to subdue him. As Ryan Miller was pulled back, one firefighter in full gear tried to enter the home, but "the heat just forced him back out," Jenne said. "Firefighters finally got to the boy, and sadly enough, he was only maybe 12-15 feet from the front door."

Crews from Louisiana, Buffalo Township and Illinois departments from Pleasant Hill and Spring Creek battled the blaze which engulfed the rear half of the home, located one block east of Mo. 79 and almost directly across from the MFA on the south side of Georgia Street. Jenne said the structure was a two-family residence, but the upstairs apartment was not occupied.

The State Fire Marshal's office investigated the fire and determined a point of origin in a receptacle right behind Catherine Miller's chair. "It looked like it went up right behind her," Jenne said.

Catherine Miller suffered burns on both shoulders but was not hospitalized, Jenne said.