Ceremonial candles started fire that killed 9-yo

2 weeks ago 5
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FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) -- Investigators now believe that dozens of candles lit as part of a religious ceremony are the cause of a fire in Queens that killed a 9-year-old boy.

The flames broke out on Hillmeyer Avenue in Far Rockaway just before 6:30 a.m. Sunday, and authorities initially a labeled the blaze suspicious.

The boy's body was found after firefighters extinguished the fire, and investigators had previously said there was trauma to his body.

Further investigation, however, pointed to the candles, which neighbors said were continuously lit as part of religious ceremonies.

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Sources identified the boy as Matthew Pichardo, and a family member confirmed the information as well.

Residents who came by the home on Monday to collect whatever items survived the blaze did not want to speak with Eyewitness News.

Three other people suffered minor injuries in the fire.

"It's a tragedy man, a little boy's not supposed to die like that," neighbor Dennis Martinez said. "Everybody get out of the house and just left him in there. Something is wrong with the picture to me."

The four apartments consisted of two family homes attached to each other, and all four families were displaced.

The owner of two of the apartments said he was very upset when he heard the child died.

"He's a very nice kid, all the time, you know, working," Yehezkel Fishbach said. "I'd see him if a tenant had a problem or anything like that, I came in, he was a really nice kid, I mean, it's really sad."

The investigation is ongoing.

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