A 12-year-old boy charged in connection with a fatal fire in Fulton, Ill., has a history of posting videos showing items igniting in a microwave oven.
The boy, the son of Charlene Sipe, 41, of Fulton who died in the Nov. 23 fire, is charged as a juvenile in Whiteside County. He will face charges of criminal damage to property and reckless conduct when he makes his first court appearance Jan. 11 in Morrison, Ill.
Authorities have not released the boys’ names.
The 12-year-old and his 8-year-old brother both escaped from the fire, along with several residents of the upstairs apartments.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office reported that the fire was “incendiary in nature,” meaning that it was “intentionally ignited under circumstances in which the person knows that the fire should not be ignited,” according to the National Fire Protection Association Code.
The state fire marshal’s office declined further comment on the fire or its exact cause, referring questions to Whiteside County State’s Attorney Gary Spencer. Fulton Fire Chief Joe Michaelsen also referred comments to Spencer. Spencer declined to comment beyond what was on a news release announcing the charges.
Whether the boy is in state custody is unclear.
Over the past several months, the boy posted about a dozen videos on the YouTube website under the name “Microwaverz,” that showed what happened when items ranging from gum to a lightbulb to tin foil and a lava lamp were placed in a microwave oven.
The first video, posted in June, showed the microwave’s effects on a glue stick. The last one, posted on Nov. 15, the week before the fire, showed a tube of toothpaste with flames shooting up inside the appliance.
On late Tuesday afternoon, the “Microwaverz” channel on YouTube was “terminated due to multiple or severe violations of our Community Guidelines.” The violations weren’t specified.
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A July 29 post on Charlene Sipe’s Facebook page touted a link to her son’s video of a piece of steel wool in the microwave.
“Hey everyone, my son Logan put out a new video on YouTube today,” Sipe wrote. “If you watched the last one and enjoyed it you’ll enjoy this one too.
“If you haven’t watched his other video, check out this one and let me know what you think,” she wrote. “Don’t worry, it’s completely safe!”
People need to be careful with microwaves because they get hot quickly, assistant Iowa state fire marshal Jeff Quigle said. He advised people to read the owners’ manual and use only microwave-safe containers and utensils with them.
“It heats up so much faster than a traditional oven,” he said. “That is why they work; they are quick and fast. They work great for food, and that is what they are intended to do.”