73° F

Body found in top floor of burning apartment building in south Allentown

Published On: May 23 2013 05:44:52 AM EDT   Updated On: May 23 2013 05:23:42 PM EDT

Body found in home after fire


A man was found dead inside a burning apartment building in south Allentown on Thursday.

Flames broke out around 3:30 a.m. at 2427 S. 4th St.

The fire was contained to the attic and roof of the building, which was badly damaged in the fire, officials said.


When fire crews reached the top floor, they found the body of Richard Chaparro, 46, in the living room of an apartment.

"We believe it's not related to the fire itself," said Asst. Chief Lee Laubach, Allentown Fire Dept.

An autopsy Thursday was inconclusive, the coroner said.

No one was injured in the fire, but five families have to find somewhere else to stay. In the meantime, the Red Cross is providing them with food and temporary lodging. Construction crews said it could be six months before the families can move back into the damaged building.

"There is no roof whatsoever, and the water introduced by the fire companies is now coming in throughout the remaining four apartments," said Greg Brey, of Moyer Services Group, the company fixing the building.

For neighbor Margaret Baatz, it's a chilling reminder that life can change in the blink of an eye.

"It's so close. As a child, I lost everything in a fire and I know what people can go through," she said. 

The fire may have been sparked by an electrical short in a bathroom fan, but investigators said they still aren't certain. The fire was placed under control in about 30 minutes.