Girl, 13, killed after blaze breaks out in Reading; Man, 63, in critical condition, officials say

An early morning fire turned fatal after it claimed the life of a 13-year-old girl in Reading.

Emergency crews responded as flames erupted on the 600 block of Summit Avenue around 4 a.m.

Officials said multiple 911 calls were made regarding the fire at the address. The fire became two-alarms around 4:15 a.m.

Fire officials say they encountered heavy flames and "access challenges" when they arrived, making it difficult to fight the fire quickly.


About a half hour in, firefighters were called back, as the conditions were too dangerous for crews. They continued fighting the blaze from outside the structure.

A firefighter and one 63-year-old occupant were treated at the scene and then transported to area hospitals. The 63-year-old man remains in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest. The firefighter was treated for a knee injury at Reading Hospital.

Officials said they found a 13-year-old girl, identified as Empressi Martin, dead inside an upper floor, when they were able to make entry.

Officials determined the fire started in the living room, on the first floor of the residence. The Fire Marshal said the cause of the fire was improper use of electrical heating appliances, which ignited nearby combustible building contents.