Thursday, January 06, 2000

Family loses all in fire started by boy

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A blaze started by a 4-year-old boy playing with fire gutted a town-house apartment in the Fay Apartments on Wednesday.

        Heavy smoke and flames were coming from the two-story apartment in the 3700 block of President Drive when firefighters responded to the 3:45 p.m. alarm, said District Chief Paul Weber.

        An adult and three small children escaped the apartment without injury, Chief Weber said.

        The fire, which started in a first-floor closet, destroyed the apartment. Damage was estimated at $80,000. The Red Cross is helping the family, which lost everything in the blaze. They did not have insurance.

        The 4-year-old boy told fire officials that he lit some paper on the kitchen stove and then hid it in a living room closet, Chief Weber said. When the contents of the closet caught fire, the boy went upstairs and alerted a adult female relative and his two siblings, he said.

        “He (the 4-year-old) has been referred to the Juvenile Firesetters Program,” Chief Weber said.

        Any child referred to the program is required to attend fire education classes with his parent or guardian, said Firefighter Morris Chapman, the program coordinator. The number of hourlong classes required depends on how well the child comprehends the information, he said.

        “It educates them, and it's a little of a shock thing,” Chief Weber said of the program, which shows children the various consequences of a fire.

        “We've averaged about 140 kids a year (during the past six years),” Firefighter Chapman said.


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