Fire that killed athletic administrator’s daughter deemed accidental

Samantha Ye

Poudre Fire Authority has determined that the fire that killed the daughter of Doug Max, Colorado State University’s athletic administrator, was accidental.

On Oct. 8, Max and his wife Cindy lost their daughter, Rachael, to a fatal fire, which also caused extensive smoke and fire damage to their home.


In a press release, PFA concluded the source of the fire was the spontaneous heating and combustion of improperly stored, oil-soaked rags. The rags had been used by a hired contractor to stain the back deck of the house.

According to PFA, piles of oily rags are prone to spontaneous combustion because they trap heat, and fabric has a relatively low ignition point.

The weeks-long investigation included interviews with witnesses, burn-pattern analysis, and a scientific process of elimination of possible causes of the fire.

CSU is currently running a GoFundMe to assist the Max family with funeral costs and home repairs.

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at or on Twitter @samxye4.