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Children with lighter start house fire

Staff Writer | December 10, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Two children playing with a lighter early Wednesday started a fire that damaged a basement and forced two families in the home to flee.

The 4 and 5 year olds admitted to investigators they used the lighter to start two pillows in their bedroom on fire about 1:15 a.m. in a house on the 500 block of East Wallace Avenue. They said they tried to put the flames out with water, couldn't, then ran and told their parents about the fire.

Glenn Lauper, Coeur d'Alene deputy fire chief, said there were 10 people living in the home, with a family of six upstairs and four people downstairs. Everyone safely escaped.

He said lighters and matches shouldn't be where children can find them.

"We need to keep those out of the hands of kids," Lauper said.

The home also did not have a smoke detector, he said.

Fire damage was limited to the basement, while the rest of the home suffered smoke damage.

The American Red Cross is helping the families find other housing.

The Coeur d'Alene Fire Department and the Idaho State Fire Marshal's Office investigated the blaze and spoke to the children Thursday.

"They explained to us how the fire started," Lauper said.

The fire department said there should be a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on each floor of a home.

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