UPDATE: Officials reveal teenager accidentally set Ephrata apartment building on fire


This story has been updated since its original publication.

EPHRATA, Pa. (WHTM) — The Ephrata Police Department and the Pa. State Police Fire Marshal have finished investigating an apartment building fire that happened Sunday afternoon around noon.

The investigation revealed a 13-year-old was misusing a lighter and a candle in a bedroom in the attic of the home. The teen was fueling a lit candle with trash and when the teen’s fingers were burnt, the fire got away.

The Pa. State Police Fire Marshal says the cause is Accidental Incendiary Fire, thus not a criminal act.

The Ephrata Police Department continues to urge parents to discuss the dangers of children playing with fire with these tips:

  • Ask children to locate all matches and lighters in the home.
  • Store lighers and matches out of sight/reach.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches or hidden lighters.
  • Use a “don’t touch” approach.
  • Explain that matches and lighters are not toys.
  • Do not use them for child amusement.
  • Never leave a child unattended with a lit candle.
  • Use child-resistant lighters.

They also explained children are one of the highest risk groups for deaths in residential fires, especially when they play with fire in “secret” places such as a bedroom. Preschoolers and kindergartners are the most likely to start fires.

The two-alarm fire started in the attic of the three-unit building in the 100 block of East Locust Street.

Seven adults and six children were displaced and being assisted by the American Red Cross. They said one adult and one firefighter were also treated for minor burns.

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