Girl playing with lighter suspected of starting blaze

"Don't play with matches" are familiar words for Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers alike.

For kids today, don't play with cigarette lighters is the new warning.

For a five-year-old St. James girl, whose accident with a lighter is suspected as the cause of a structure fire – lesson learned.

According to St. James Fire Protection District Chief Bruce Parton, firefighters on Feb. 17 responded to a call on County Road 3610 at 10:33 a.m.

Further investigation revealed that the fire started in the daughter's bedroom. Thankfully, no one was injured, he said.

"Apparently the parents had trouble in the last week with the daughter playing with a lighter," the chief said. "It was an accident, and kids will be kids.

"You tell the parents that we're not going to throw the little girl in jail or anything – because it is an accident, we just want her to own up to it even though she knows it's wrong."

The fire was contained to one end of the home, but the heat and smoke caused by the blaze resulted in a total loss.

Parton said the fire was under control in 32 minutes after fire personnel arrived on the scene.

Rolla Rural personnel were also called to the scene to assist and to the SJFPD station to provide backup.

Parton said SJFPD sent four trucks and 11 firefighters to the scene, while Rolla Rural sent two trucks and five firefighters to the scene.

Parton said the family declined Red Cross assistance at 11:32 a.m. on Feb. 17, however a press release issued later that day stated that the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter was assisting the three-member family by providing food, clothing and comfort kits, which contain personal hygiene items, and referrals to partner agencies.