Lehigh Valley

Good Samaritan springs into action during fire in Bethlehem

Bethlehem fire started by children playing with lighter

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Officials say a fire at an apartment building in Bethlehem was started by two children playing with a lighter, the fire began after a mattress was lit.

Firefighters say 31 people including 15 children were displaced from their apartment building on Monday after a fire on Mechanic Street in Bethlehem.

No one was seriously injured however a firefighter had to be taken to the hospital after being hit by debris from a partial ceiling collapse.

Jimmy Ortiz also had to be transported to the hospital after going through the building trying to warn people of the fire.

Ortiz, co-owner of Maracas Cafe and Restaurant, says he was cooking in the kitchen right around the corner from the apartment building when he and his co-workers saw the blaze.

"There was flames coming out through the windows so I said, tell my customers that I can't finish the food. I have to go help because I knew there was a lot of kids in the building," said Ortiz.

After going through the building twice Ortiz helped warn two people who were inside to get out.

Shortly after, Ortiz returned to the restaurant to finish cooking but had to be taken to the hospital after collapsing from smoke inhalation.

"I passed out. I mean I passed out, I fell down, an ambulance came, fire department, and they helped me and took me," he said.

Tuesday, Ortiz says he felt fine and felt even better knowing everyone made it out safely.

According to a spokesperson with the Bethlehem Fire Department, the firefighter who was injured remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

"It doesn't look like a bad fire from the outside," said deputy fire commissioner Craig Baer in a report to city council Tuesday night.

Baer said the injured firefighter won't be released until Wednesday at the earliest. 

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental.

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