September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Fire officials: Sibling caused blaze that burned Lorain boy

LORAIN — A sibling of the 4-year-old who was burned over 90 percent of his body Saturday set fire to a blanket the boy was sleeping on, fire officials said Thursday.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Fenn said the cause of the fire was deemed incendiary, which is defined by fire officials as intentionally setting a fire that shouldn’t be set. It differs from arson in that arson generally requires a motive or an illegal purpose.

Lorain police Detective Dennis Camarillo said Lorain police do not plan to pursue charges against the child who started the fire. The child’s age was not provided.

The information is being provided to Children Services, however, should it choose to involve itself with the family, Camarillo said.

“It was accidental, unfortunately, and the little guy was trapped in the room,’’ Camarillo said. “Everyone did what they could to get everyone out.’’

Nasire King received second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body after being caught in the fire that destroyed the family’s West 19th Street home. He remained in critical condition Thursday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Firefighters were called to the home about 1 a.m., and had the fire contained by 1:43 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they found Nicole King, 28, outside with her seven children and her mother. She told authorities she got everyone out of the house after her mother started yelling that there was a fire, but she said she initially could not find Nasire in the home.

She told police when she did find him, she carried him out of the house, but questions were raised about that account after bloody footprints were seen leading to a neighbor’s home, and they were believed to be Nasire’s.

Camarillo said Nicole King clarified her statement to police by saying she did carry him to the back door of the home, but put him down at that point and he walked from there.

Hospital staff also overhead Nicole King saying she might have fallen asleep with a lit cigarette and told authorities, prompting that cause to be checked out and dismissed after the evidence didn’t bear it out.

Since Saturday, Fenn and Camarillo, along with Jeffrey Koehn, an investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s Office, and Joanna Lambert, an investigator with the federal ATF office, have been going over the home to figure out how it started.

Fire departments are required to call in the state Fire Marshal’s Office when a death occurs, and — given the severity of Nasire’s injuries — Lorain firefighters made the call to that office almost immediately.

“Through the fire and smoke patterns, we were able to come up with a room of origin, and a point of origin,’’ Fenn said Thursday. “Through witness statements and stuff like that, we were able to determine exactly what happened.’’

Lorain County Children Services spokeswoman Patti-Jo Burtnett said the agency is aware of the fire, and it will look over the information sent to it by the authorities to determine what, if any, social services might be of help to the family.

Contact Julie Wallace at 329-7157 or jwallace@chroniclet.com.