Child playing with matches starts Bradenton apartment fire that leaves 4 families homeless

September 20, 2012 

MANATEE --A young child playing with matches in a bedroom at a Bradenton apartment Wednesday night accidentally started a fire that displaced four families, according to Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue.

A framed photo of a young girl, a Manatee Youth football trophy and a Bible setting on a small table were among a few belongings outside the units Thursday morning that appeared untouched by the blaze. Fire line tape surrounded the building.

Cedar Hammock responded about 7:35 p.m. Wednesday to Bay Club Apartments, 2245 46th Ave. W., in Bradenton, where smoke and flames were coming from the front door and front window of a second floor apartment, a news release states.

Four fire engines and one battalion chief from Cedar Hammock were joined by a ladder truck from Southern Manatee Fire Rescue and one ambulance three minutes after dispatch notified responders of the alarm, according to the release.

“Early response contained it to just that bedroom,” said Eric Center, deputy fire marshal for Cedar Hammock. “There was no fire damage to the rest of the apartment. They were able to suppress the fire and stop it from spreading throughout the building.”

The fire was controlled about 15 minutes after firefighters arrived at the scene, the release states.

Center said the child who accidentally started the blaze tried to extinguish the fire.

“The child was in the room alone and admitted to having a match and starting the fire,” Center said. “By the time the child notified the parents, it was out of control.”

Center said the parents also attempted to extinguish the fire. The parents were able to evacuate their two children from the home. Residents in adjacent units also evacuated safely. No injuries were reported.

Two additional engines and another ladder truck responded when a second alarm was activated and were on standby until the fire was under control, the release states.

The four apartments on the south side of a fire wall in the building sustained approximately $180,000 in damage to the structure and contents.

Center said the bedroom where the fire started was destroyed. The rest of the apartment sustained high heat and smoke damage. The three other affected units sustained water and smoke damage, he said.

The exterior walls near the roof and beneath the front window of the second floor apartment were blackened Thursday morning, and several doors and windows were boarded. Debris and two fire extinguishers were outside the units.

All affected apartments were deemed uninhabitable. Red Cross assisted the displaced families, and Bay Club is working to relocate the victims to other units, said Kelly Lowrey, property manager.

Center said the family will be invited to attend a voluntary Manatee County Juvenile Firesetters program.

“Any time we respond to a call where a child was playing with matches or lighters we try to get kids to the program. Siblings and parents can attend to learn the importance of fire safety and the dangers of playing with fire.”

If a similar incident happens again, Center said it would be handled through normal court procedures.

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