Child with lighter ignites fire

May 5, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — A smoke alarm proved to be a lifesaver for a local family on Friday when a child playing with a lighter started a fire that filled their home with smoke and flames.

The Michigan City Fire Department received a 911 call about 10:15 a.m. about a structure fire in the 500 block of Pleasant Avenue, according to MCFD Public Information Officer Tony Drzewiecki.

Firefighters were on the scene minutes later and found a two-story, two-unit structure with “heavy smoke and flames showing from the second story,” he said.

“The initial arriving fire companies found significant smoke conditions and a fire in the bedroom and living area,” Drziewicki said. The fire was brought under control within 15 minutes.

“The fire appears to have started in the bedroom,” he said. “The cause of the fire was a 3-year-old child playing with a lighter and caught the mattress on fire.”

At the time of the fire, one adult and three young children were present and exited without injury, Drziewicki said. “The residents were alerted of the fire by smoke detectors that were present in the home.” The tenants in the downstairs unit were not home at the time of the fire.

A total of five vehicle and 21 MCFD personnel worked the scene, and no injuries were reported.

Michigan City Police, NIPSCO and La Porte County EMS assisted at the scene. The American Red Cross was notified and is working with the residents to offer assistance after the building was deemed unlivable, Drzewieckisaid.

He said a smoke alarm is “critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death. In this case it proved to be an important factor in saving lives.

“Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home,” he said. “But no matter where or how, having a smoke alarm is the first key step toward your family’s safety.”

—From staff reports