19-Year-Old Killed In Apartment Fire Likely Started By Spilled Candle

BENTON TWP. (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say a 19-year-old who apparently fell asleep on the couch in her Berrien County apartment has died in an early morning fire.

Firefighters were called to the apartment building just before 5 a.m. Saturday and found fire in the apartment’s living room.

Benton Township fire Lt. Russell Perry told WSBT-TV the resident, Joisha Boatner, worked a late shift, came home, lit some candles and fell asleep on the couch. He said a candle apparently tipped over, catching the living room on fire.

After hearing a smoke alarm, a resident in another apartment called 911 and the building’s owner, a former Benton Harbor firefighter who lives next to the apartment building. WSBT-TV reports the building owner went into Boatner’s apartment when she didn’t answer the door, and found her unconscious on the kitchen floor.

The landlord dragged Boatner from her apartment and she was taken to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, where she was pronounced dead.

Perry told the station that for an unknown reason, Boatner had taken down a smoke detector in the apartment hallway.

Police say three apartments received light smoke damage. An investigation is ongoing.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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