Broward County

A 3-year-old was playing with a lighter. Now he and his family are homeless.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Crews responded to a single-family home fire Monday, July 23, 2018, in the 1200 block of Northwest 11th Place. Officials say a 3-year-old started the blaze with a lighter.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Crews responded to a single-family home fire Monday, July 23, 2018, in the 1200 block of Northwest 11th Place. Officials say a 3-year-old started the blaze with a lighter. Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue

A 3-year-old used a lighter to set a piece of paper on fire and then dropped it, causing the blaze to spread to a bed and then consume much of the Fort Lauderdale home, according to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Just after 4 p.m., the department was alerted to the fire in the 1200 block of Northwest 11th Place.

Inside were the 3-year-old, another child and the owner of the home, who was watching the children at the time. The children’s mother, who also lives in the home, was at work at the time of the fire.

Batallion Chief Stephen Gollan, a spokesman for the department, said when crews arrived there was heavy smoke coming from the single-story home.

“One of the challenges was that there were hurricane shutters on the house, so we did not have normal access,” he said.

All three people inside — including the owner, who tried to extinguish the fire with a garden hose — were treated for smoke inhalation and released, Gollan said.

The house, according to Gollan, is not livable.

”The home has too much damage,” he said. “It’s a complete loss.” Gollan said the Red Cross was assisting the affected family.

Gollan stressed the importance of educating children — of any age — about the importance of fire safety. He also said parents need to be educated as well.

“Yes, children need to be aware,” he said. “But adults also need to to be aware of the dangers of leaving ignition sources accessible to children such as lighters.”

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