Arson fire claims life of 3rd child; 1 person in custody
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A mid-week fire that authorities believe was intentionally set has claimed the life of a third child.
Eight-year-old Ezekiel Major died Saturday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was taken after the Wednesday night fire in Laflin, state police said.
The Luzerne County coroner’s office earlier said 12-year-old Devon Major and 16-year-old Erik Dupree died of carbon monoxide poisoning from smoke inhalation.
The district attorney’s office has said the fire was deliberately set. Police said a man identified as a person of interest is in custody on an existing arrest warrant. No charges have been filed in connection with the fire.
One of the three boys had called 911 and reported that a person known to the family but not permitted on the property was on the back porch, said First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce. The child said he and his brothers were in their second-floor bedroom but could see the person outside. At 7:15 p.m., another 911 call came in reporting the fire.
Neighbors said the mother had inherited the property from her parents and lived there with the three boys.
“They were nice people. Very nice,” said neighbor John Ratajczak said. “I feel so sorry for her.”
Jeff Woytowich, who grew up in that neighborhood, said he got a text from one of his customers alerting him to the fire, and he rushed over.
“The emotion of seeing kids pulled dead from a home is just heartbreaking, helpless,” he said. “It’s a tragedy to see kids die in front of you.”