PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Emotions ran high for residents in Pittsburgh’s Beltzhoover neighborhood Thursday morning after fire ravaged a home.
The smoke detectors went off around 7:30 a.m. at the home on Industry Street.
“When we got here, it was coming out pretty good in the back,” said Chief George Holl, of the Pittsburgh Fire Department.
“It was flames shooting out the back of the house, I mean pouring, raging out the back of the house,” added Antoinette White, a neighbor.
Tanya Epps says her 11-year-old son admitted to starting the fire.
“He was upstairs, getting ready for school and I guess he got a hold of matches or a lighter or something,” said Epps.
She says her son has bi-popular disorder; and after a family member recently died in a fire, she noticed her son starting to play with matches and lighters.
Officials say the fire started on the mattress of the boy’s 2-year-old sister. She was not in bed at the time.
“We fell asleep downstairs,” said Epps. “We stayed up late and fell asleep downstairs, thank God.”
Epps and her cousin, who had spent the night, tried to put the fire out themselves, even attempting to throw the burning mattress out the window.
“I ran into the bathroom to try to get some water to throw it on the bed, but it was just too big,” said Khaleah Thomas, a family member.
“It was a small fire along the edge of the bed. Then, I guess when I opened the window that just made it worse,” said Epps. “It made it worse, and then it just completely went in flames.”
Epps, her three children and her cousin were able to make it out of the house safely. Firefighters got the fire under control within 15 minutes.
While Battalion Chief Holl could not comment on the investigation, he says the fire department does try to educate children in fire prevention.
“They do have a juvenile fire setters program for kids who have been involved with playing with fire,” said Holl.
KDKA’s Heather Abraham reached out to the fire department to see if the case could be ruled as arson and if the child could be charged. Officials say it is still under investigation.