Young Child Playing With Lighter May Have Sparked Deadly Rowhouse Fire

Investigators in Philadelphia are making progress as they work to determine the cause of the deadly fire at a rowhouse that killed eight children and four adults.

While officials have provided few details about their investigation, a warrant application has shed some light on what may have sparked the blaze. According to the Philadelphia Inquirera five-year-old boy told investigators he accidentally caused the fire while playing with a lighter near a Christmas tree.

Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, confirmed the report but noted that investigators are also looking into other potential causes of the fire. She added that authorities are unlikely to file charges in relation to the fire.

The fire department initially said that there were just four smoke detectors in the building and that none of them were working, but officials with the Philadelphia House Authority said that was not the case. They said the rowhouse had 13 tamper-resistant detectors and that they were all working when the building was last inspected in May 2021.

Fire Department Deputy Chief Dennis Merrigan called the investigation “very complex” and said that the ATF sent a team to assist the Fire Marshal’s Office. He said they are using laser scanning technology to create three-dimensional renderings of the inside of the building to get a better idea of how the fire spread.

“It’s a very traumatic scene, it’s a very complex investigation,” Merrigan said. “It’s something that would challenge us if we had to do it on our own.”

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