Deadly Fire Considered Arson

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Sources close to the investigation into a house fire that killed three children say it was arson. But they say they don't have enough evidence to get an arrest.

The fire started in the early morning hours of March 7 in the Village Seven neighborhood of Colorado Springs. When fire crews got to the scene, they found Tim Nicholls lying outside of the house with burns to 15 percent of his body. His three children, 11-year-old J.J., 6-year-old Sophie and 3-year-old Sierra, were still inside the house. They all died of smoke inhalation.

It's been almost two months since the fire claimed their lives. Fire investigators have been working on this case ever since. Sources say they think they know what happened, but they don't have enough evidence to prove it.

Sources close to the investigation tell 11 News, the fire that killed the three children was arson. But they add, the investigation has stalled and now they're afraid they may never be able to charge anyone in the deaths.

After seven weeks, fire investigators think they know what happened the morning of March 7th. Sources close to the investigation tell us, they believe Tim Nicholls, the father of the children, started the fire. They say the investigation shows it originated in three separate places where an accelerant was used. And that accelerant was found on the clothes the dad was wearing.

Investigators took this evidence to District Attorney Jeannie Smith on Tuesday, hoping she would okay an arrest warrant for Tim Nicholls. We're told Smith wouldn't, because she wants more evidence.

Sources say the chemical used to start the fire is common and found in most homes. Tim Nicholls works in construction, and they say it would be hard to prove the accelerant didn't come from somewhere else.

Now investigators are afraid that even though they believe it was arson, they may never be able to get justice for the deaths of three innocent children.

It's very important to note, Tim Nicholls has not been charged and investigators haven't told us what they believe the motive was.

11 News also spoke to Deborah Nicholls, the mother of the three children, and Tim's wife. She says both she and her husband were advised not to do an on-camera interview. But over the phone, Deborah had plenty to say about this development.

Deborah Nicholls says her children were their lives, and that she and Tim tried to do everything to provide for them. She says, "Our hearts are already so broken." And, "It's so hard to even go there. We were just like, oh, my God. Like life isn't hard enough."

Deborah says she knew investigators were looking at her husband, but she says, "There's no evidence. He didn't do it. We're flabbergasted." And, "I know he didn't do it. He loved those babies."

She believes investigators are grasping at straws, "It's ridiculous. There's no evidence. My husband was sleeping when it started."

Deborah says these past seven weeks have been unimaginable. "We have to start over, completely. It's my worst nightmare."

Deborah says she's thankful for the support she's been getting from the community. She hopes no one has to go through what she has gone through. And she adds that Tim has been her guiding compass through all of this.

Investigators are still looking for leads on this case. If you have any information, please call Colorado Springs Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP.