Police arrested a man who they say left his son alone in an apartment unit, which eventually led to a massive fire that displaced 100 people.
Police say Hugh McKavanagh, 59, lived with his 16-year-old son, who is mentally challenged, at the Racquet Club Apartment Complex on Route 413 in Middletown Township.
On July 26, McKavanagh allegedly left his son alone inside their apartment while he was hanging out with friends and drinking inside a nearby unit. Officials told Levittown Now that the teen has the mind of a child between the ages of four and six.
Police say McKavanagh had been smoking and left his cigarette inside his apartment. While he was alone, investigators say McKavanagh’s son emptied an ashtray into the kitchen trash can and accidentally sparked the fire.
Police say McKavanagh noticed the blaze as he walked back to his apartment unit to change his clothes. McKavanagh was planning on going to the Parx Casino with his friends, according to investigators.
Once he noticed the fire, police say McKavanagh tried to rescue his son but couldn’t enter because of the smoke and flames. The boy managed to escape the blaze with the help of McKavanagh’s friends by jumping from the second floor balcony, according to officials. He suffered an arm injury and smoke inhalation. McKavanagh suffered burns to his feet.
The fire lit up the night sky with bright orange flames and dark gray smoke. When it was over, investigators counted 48 units that were affected and about 100 people displaced. While many were home at the time of the fire, others arrived after work or a night out to discover what had happened.
Middletown Township Fire Marshall Jim McGuire says it took about 180 volunteer firefighters from all over Bucks County more than three hours to bring the fire under control. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.
Investigators told Levittown Now that McKavanagh was still drinking alcohol while he was being treated by a medic for his injuries. A Middletown Township detective also says he still smelled alcohol on McKavanagh’s breath while he spoke to him at the hospital, even though he had an oxygen mask on.
After an investigation that took several months, police arrested McKavanagh on Monday, charging him with misdemeanor child endangerment. He posted 10 percent of $15,000 bail.
Levittown Now reports that McKavanagh’s ex-wife, Theresa Norton, and another one of her sons threatened one of their reporters prior to McKavanagh’s arraignment on Monday.
McKavanagh and Norton have joint custody of their 16-year-old son. Officials are working to see what will happen to the teen.