The tragedy started when Josh Powell lost custody of his two boys last week. His wife, Susan Cow-Powell disappeared in 2009 and Powell is a suspect. He was in a custody battle with Susan's parents. A social worker brought the two boys to their father's home for a supervised visit. Immediately the social worker feared that these two boys were in danger because when she arrived at the door Powell grabbed his boys from her and slammed the door to his home. The social worker immediately called 911 and told the operator that she smelled gasoline and could hear the children crying. For the next six minutes she tried to convince the operator to send help for the two boys ages 7 and 5. Flames emerged from the home just as the dispatcher said the first available deputy would respond. Both Powell and his two sons died in the fire.
Before the fire on Sunday, Powell's sister, Alina Powell, called police because she was concerned about "weird" messages she received from her brother. The sister said that Powell claimed he could not live without his sons and said goodbye. Powell's attorney also called 911 after he received an email from his client and hearing about the explosion. The email basically said that Powell was sorry and goodbye. Powell also sent an email to his boss saying goodbye.