Fatal Fire: Cause Not Suspicious, Police Say
After official investigation, the Emmaus Police Department says that the cause of a fatal fire in an apartment building on Sunday is not suspicious.
Police say the fire that ripped through an apartment building and killed four people at 36-38 S. Fifth St. in Emmaus on Sunday was not of suspicious origin. No signs of criminal activity have been found.
There's no word yet on what caused the fire.
Official word on the identities of the dead came Tuesday evening. Victims include a mother and her 16-year-old son, who was a student at Emmaus High School. Her boyfriend, who was visiting, also died.
A funeral fund for the victims has been established. Firefighters are collecting gift cards and donations to help survivors replace their belongings.
The Emmaus Police Department released the following statement Wednesday:
The Emmaus Police Department in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshals Unit, representatives from the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office and the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the fire at 36-38 South 5th Street Emmaus, PA. is not suspicious in nature.
No indication of criminal activity was found during the course of the
investigation. The fire was determined to have originated on the 3rd Floor of 38 S. 5th Street. Any additional information relative to the victims already identified in this fire will be released by the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office.
The fire left five East Penn students homeless. Several residents were able to escape the double house as fire spread shortly before noon Sunday.
The Lehigh County Coroner used dental records and DNA to positively identify victims because their bodies were so badly burned.
Staff at McDonald's in Emmaus are mourning the girlfriend of one of their co-workers. "She was his world," the McDonald's manager said.
The fire was so intense that firefighters were unable to get into the double house to rescue residents trapped on the second and third floors.
A woman who lives across the street says her daughter heard a "boom." The sidewalk in front of her house was covered with shattered glass from windows that blew out of the burning building.
A fire survivor told the Morning Call he thinks oxygen tanks used by a resident may have exploded. A woman who lived in a first-floor apartment of the building told the Call how her father pounded on her door to alert her.
Michael Marks, who lives on Second Street, watched from the parking lot of Volpe's Sports Bar as firefighters continued to vent the roof and wet down the building hours after the fire.
Marks said he saw flames shooting from the windows and roof when he first got to the scene. He found out about the fire from two friends—volunteer firefighters—who sent him a text message on their way to the call.
Lehigh County property records online show that the building is owned by Michael F. and Loretta A. Boyko of Macungie. The building was a funeral home for many years before being converted to apartments, according to multiple reports.
Responders included firefighters from Emmaus, Upper Milford/Vera Cruz, Western Salisbury and Lower Macungie, as well as ambulance crews from Emmaus and Cetronia