Fireworks eyed in fatal Pittston blaze; fundraiser started for family

By Ed Lewis - elewis@timesleader.com
Aiden -
A single flower rests outside of 18 Wood St., Pittston, where a Tuesday fire led to the death of 11-year-old Aiden Middlemiss. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
A single flower rests outside of 18 Wood street in Pittston where 11 year-old Aiden Middlemiss died in a fire caused by children outside setting off fireworks. Three juveniles are in police custody. Aimee Dilger|Times Leader - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

PITTSTON — Investigators are strongly leaning toward fireworks as the cause of the fire that claimed the life of 11-year-old Aiden Middlemiss, two law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

Those sources say interviews with neighbors reported fireworks were ignited prior to the blaze at 18 Wood St. just before 1 a.m. Tuesday. Evidence recovered at the scene also points toward fireworks as the cause of the fire, sources said.

One source noted the final determination will be made by a state police deputy fire marshal.

An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross determined Middlemiss died from carbon monoxide intoxication due to smoke inhalation caused by a structural fire. The manner of death is pending the criminal investigation.

Three juveniles were detained Tuesday night, but their names and any charges were not released due to their ages and rules of juvenile court procedure, Pittston police said in a news release, adding that law enforcement could not comment further.

Middlemiss was removed from a second floor bedroom and transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center where he died. He was a fifth-grade student at Pittston Area’s Martin L. Mattei Middle School.

A fundraiser account https://www.gofundme.com/f/txt4kd-family-who-lost-everything was created Wednesday by Courtney Sweet with a goal of $5,000 to help the family. As of 8 p.m. Wednesday $1,300 had been raised.

Grief counseling

Fellow students, as well as firefighters, were offered assistance in dealing with the tragedy’s emotional aftermath.

Pittston Area announced grief counselors from the school district and Children’s Service Center were available Tuesday and again Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Middle School.

“We’re doing the best we can. Anytime you have a fatality it’s tragic, especially when it’s a young child,” Fire Chief Jim Rooney said Wednesday.

Rooney said firefighters underwent Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, a program designed to assist firefighters in dealing with trauma.

The fire chief said firefighters responded to the blaze knowing there was entrapment.

A father and mother escaped and three children pushed out a window air conditioner and jumped out a second floor window, Rooney said.

Rooney said Middlemiss was the youngest who lived in the house. His bedroom was above the front porch where investigators believe the fire originated.

Rooney said he could not confirm if fireworks were the cause of the fire.

Two firefighters were injured but declined medical treatment. One suffered heat exhaustion and another was hit with spray water, Rooney said.

“They’re doing okay,” Rooney said.

“There is not much that can be said in the face of such a terrible tragedy that our responders faced last night. As always we are proud of the heroic efforts of our firefighters and thankful for our mutual aid assistance. We send our sincere condolences out to the family and all those affected,” the City of Pittston Bureau of Fire posted on its Facebook page.

Aiden
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/web1_Aiden-Middlemiss.jpgAiden

A single flower rests outside of 18 Wood St., Pittston, where a Tuesday fire led to the death of 11-year-old Aiden Middlemiss.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/web1_TTL071119fire-folo1.jpgA single flower rests outside of 18 Wood St., Pittston, where a Tuesday fire led to the death of 11-year-old Aiden Middlemiss. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

A single flower rests outside of 18 Wood street in Pittston where 11 year-old Aiden Middlemiss died in a fire caused by children outside setting off fireworks. Three juveniles are in police custody. Aimee Dilger|Times Leader
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/web1_TTL071119fire-folo2.jpgA single flower rests outside of 18 Wood street in Pittston where 11 year-old Aiden Middlemiss died in a fire caused by children outside setting off fireworks. Three juveniles are in police custody. Aimee Dilger|Times LeaderAimee Dilger | Times Leader
Fundraiser started for family

By Ed Lewis

elewis@timesleader.com