4-year-old playing with lighter starts fire, damages home on Indy's southeast side

Posted at 1:30 PM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 19:43:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Fire investigators believe a 4-year-old playing with a lighter started a fire in a bedroom that damaged a home and sent him and his 16-month-old sibling to the hospital on Friday. 

Firefighters were called to the home in the 1700 block of Minnesota Street around 9:30 a.m. after a neighbor called for help. 

The mother told fire investigators that she and the infant were asleep on the couch downstairs when the fire started. She said she woke up to the smell of smoke and found her 4-year-old son in the bedroom with a bag of clothes on fire inside a hamper.

The mother told firefighters that her son said he had used the lighter that the family used for candles to start the fire.

All 9 people inside the home were able to get out safely before firefighters arrived. 

Because of a significant language barrier, it took firefighters some time to figure out what was going on at the scene.  During that time Captain Miguel Ognay noticed that the children were scared and hungry and took them to the Village Pantry next door to get them some food.

The 4-year-old and his infant sibling were both taken to the hospital. The 4-year-old was listed as having "significant" injuries from being in the smoke-filled room but has since been upgraded to good condition and is expected to be okay. The infant was checked out and released. 

Investigators referred the 4-year-old to the IFD Fire Stop – Juvenile Fire Setters program. The program is utilized as a stop gap measure to counsel young children who may show an unusual interest in fire or setting fires. The program offers incident and age specific education and a fire-risk assessment at no cost to families. The program is a joint effort between the IFD and IMPD Fire Investigations section and the IFD Fire and Life Safety Division. 

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