Firefighters Preach Prevention After Child's Play Sparks Fire

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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March 10, 2011

After innocent child's play puts a house in flames, fire investigators say the blaze may serve as a warning for others. A five-year-old was reportedly playing with matches in a North Wichita home near 13th and Oliver Thursday morning, which caused the fire to break out. No one was injured in the fire, but investigators say it may have easily turned out worse.

"It was mostly smoke coming out of the windows," said a neighbor, Azileen Holieworth.

But Holieworth says she didn't know exactly what had happened to her neighbor's home until later. When she found out a five-year-old had sparked the blaze she couldn't believe it.

"If that was my grandson, they would have to just take me to the hospital if I heard about that!" said Holieworth.

But for Wichita fire investigators, the cause of Thursday's fire isn't shocking at all. They estimate a child starts at least 10% of fires requiring their review.

"In my time with investigations we've had several fatalities due to juveniles playing with fire, and it is a very sad situation because overall it's very preventable," said Wichita Fire Investigations Capt. Stuart Bevis.

The Wichita Fire Department hosts events all year for families to learn fire prevention. Firefighters will also speak to groups or even individual families upon request. In teaching prevention, investigators say they show children what types of ignition devices can be dangerous and even deadly. But, firefighters say, it's sometimes more important for parents to learn prevention, as young children aren't able to make sound decisions until they reach a certain age.

"They're still learning the difference between right and wrong," said Bevis.

So fire investigators suggest parents treat lighters and matches just as they would guns or knives. It's something they say many people don't realize, because of the easy accessibility of fire-starting sources.

You can learn more about fire prevention by clicking here.

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