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10-year-old boy dies in Reading fire; blaze accidentally set by child

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 03 2014 09:30:07 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 04 2014 12:01:36 PM CST

Firefighters jumped into action to rescue 10-year-old Jesus Velazquez from a fire this afternoon. But despite their best efforts he died when he got to Reading Hospital.

READING, Pa. -

A 10-year-old boy who died after being pulled from a burning home had just celebrated his birthday on Christmas day.

Firefighters jumped into action to rescue Jesus Velazquez from a fire in the 1100 block of Elm Street Friday afternoon. The boy later died at Reading Hospital.

The boy's mother tells 69 News the fire broke out in his sister's bedroom, and fire fighters found a lighter nearby. Officials have ruled the fire accidental.

Jesus, who had just turned 10 Christmas day, was given his name in honor of Christmas day, said his mom. Jesus, one of seven children, was a third grade student at 13th and Green Elementary School.

The deputy fire chief tells us the fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. in a second floor bedroom. Before crews even arrived, multiple people were calling 911 telling dispatchers that a little 10-year-old boy was trapped inside on the 3rd floor. That is when a neighbor jumped into action.

"It is a kid. When kids are involved you got to do something. You just cannot sit back. You got to go," said neighbor Richard Schmeer.

Without hesitation, Richard Schmeer tells us he climbed up onto the roof and was trying to break into his neighbor's home to rescue 10-year-old Jesus Velazquez.

"I got through. I just could not get in," said Schmeer.

That is when crews arrived and began fighting the fire on the second floor while sending additional firefighters up to the third floor to rescue Velazquez. They immediately got him out of the house and into an ambulance. But after arriving at Reading Hospital, the deputy chief tells us the boy died.

"In situations like this we are able to realize how precious life is. Despite the best efforts of the best firefighters in the city of Reading, it does not always work out," said Lessar.

"It is sad," said neighbor Xavier Rivera.

"I feel sad for the people that live there and my hearts and prayers go out to them," said neighbor Nathan Kissinger.

The cause of the fire is a child introducing an open flame to combustibles in the bedroom. There is no word at this time if it is the same 10-year-old boy who died. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.