MERIDAN, Idaho — Family members have identified two people who died in an Idaho house fire that erupted shortly after a home invasion.

Three people were killed in the Wednesday fire in Meridian, just west of Boise. Relatives identified two of the victims as Scott McAlister, 55, and his 84-year-old mother, Carmen Abbott, the Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/2xVbvS6 ).

Investigators believe the third person killed was the home invasion suspect, who police believe didn’t know McAlister or his mother.

Abbott died at the scene, and McAlister died Thursday after being airlifted to the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City. McAlister’s wife, Lily, survived. McAlister’s nieces said he was terminally ill with cancer.

“Everybody’s been kind of shocked and overwhelmed,” said Patrice McAlister, who along with her sister identified the victims. “We don’t know how to process at this point. It’s surreal.”

Authorities responded to calls of a prowler at the home Wednesday night. Police exchanged fire with the armed suspect, who then entered the home. The house soon caught fire and was engulfed in flames within 15 minutes, authorities said.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. The Ada County coroner has not released the names of the people killed in the fire.

Patrice McAlister and her sister, Michele, said they believe the attack was random. The sisters noted that doctors had estimated their uncle had less than a month to live.

The sisters described their uncle and grandmother as loving people who put family first. They said their uncle and his wife of 29 years had lived at the home for four or five years, and Abbott was staying with the couple at the time.

They said their uncle was an avid outdoorsman, while their grandmother was an accomplished pianist known for her holiday decorations. Both were animal lovers.

They noted that all the physical memories of their uncle and his life with their aunt were lost in the fire.

“She was ripped of her final moments (with him),” Michele McAlister said. “She doesn’t have a single physical memory of him. … She’s left with nothing.”


Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com