MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – Investigators say a Miami Gardens townhouse was destroyed after a child set a fire with a lighter.
The family of the 5-year-old child is allowing him to speak out, hoping his comments will discourage other children from doing the same thing.
“The house got on fire. It started in my grandmother’s room. I was scared and that was dangerous,” said the child.
He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench he was playing with a lighter before the blaze started. “I was playing with the lighter,” he said.
He said he was encouraged to use the lighter because other people in his household smoked cigarettes.
“I have seen them smoking,” he said. “I have them smoking all the time.”
He also said he would tell other children that it is a bad idea to fool around with lighters and he said he had learned a valuable lesson.
A spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Fire Department said eleven units responded when the blaze was reported at 10:05 a.m. at 21006 N.W. 39th Ave. She said the blaze was under control by 10:55 A.M. and was extinguished by 11:18 a.m.
She said no one was hurt. She said seven people were displaced and would be offered temporary shelter by the American Red Cross.
She said the fire was ruled “accidental” and the cause was “child playing with lighter.” She said the child would now have to take part in the county’s Fire Starters program for youngsters.
Family members say this was the second fire at the home in recent Months. They say the last blaze was caused by an electrical problem.
The child’s great grandmother, Joann Johnson, said her great grandson told her there was a fire in the home and that’s when she tried to put it out.
“I was scared and so I ran out of the door and I called the fire department,” she said. “All my stuff was burnt up.”
“What was going on in your mind?” asked D’Oench. “Get my baby out,” she said.
“Everything I owned was burnt up,” said the child’s aunt, Betty Tullis. “I don’t know what I am going to do. I am talking to the Red Cross. I don’t have a place to go.”