Family fears child playing with lighter set New Kensington house on fire
A child accidentally set a New Kensington house on fire Tuesday while playing with a lighter, according to family members standing outside and watching the home burn.
Xena Bosworth feared one of her brothers found a lighter and set the house on fire.
Bosworth, 22, and her boyfriend, Charles Chandler, left her mother’s house at 520 Fourth Ave. just before 4 p.m. with her 11-year-old brother so he could go do his homework at school. Bosworth left her youngest brothers, 5 and 2 years old, behind with a babysitter.
Just minutes after they left, they got a call that the house was on fire.
“I guess somewhere, somehow they got hold of a lighter,” Chandler said at the scene.
New Kensington Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr. said the cause of the fire couldn’t be confirmed until the investigation is complete. Saliba said late Tuesday evening that preliminary reports indicate it was started by the 5 year old and a lighter. The incident remains under investigation.
The fire started just before 4 p.m. in a second floor bedroom in the northeast section of the building.
Saliba said between $30,000 and $40,000 worth of damage was done including heat, smoke and water damage to the second floor and water and smoke damage to the first floor.
The fire spread to neighboring 522 Fourth Ave. after it knocked out a window.
“The firefighters did a good job holding the fire in check,” Saliba said. “There’s some damage to the windows at 522, but the fire never got into the structure itself. All the damage was held to the exterior.”
Saliba said a couple of people were attended to by paramedics at the scene, but no one was injured in the fire.
Robert Gray, who lives at 522 Fourth Ave., said he found out about the fire by getting a call at work.
“I lost everything,” he said. “Everything I worked hard for all my life.”
Firefighters were able to get the fire under control in about 25 minutes. Saliba said they had an issue getting one of the hydrants open with a wrench, but they were able to get the problem fixed and water flowing quickly. He said it didn’t affect how fast the fire was put out.
Saliba said the American Red Cross was assisting the Bosworth family.
Staff writer Mike DiVittorio contributed to this report. Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.