According to the Payson Fire Department, a family “is lucky to be alive” after a 3-year-old boy nearly burned his home down while playing with matches while the rest of the family slept.
Fire investigators were told by the toddler that sometime around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, he was playing with a box of matches in his lower bunk bed.
The boy’s 5-year-old brother said he watched his brother play with the matches from the upper bunk, but did nothing to stop him, said Payson Fire Marshal Bob Lockhart.
When a fire broke out in the bed, the boys went into the home’s bathroom and waited.
Days before Saturday’s fire, the mother of the boys told Lockhart she had caught the 3-year-old playing with a box of matches. After warning the boy not to play with them, she thought the incident was finished.
When the mother awoke Saturday morning, she looked toward the bathroom, which connects to the boys’ room and saw the boys huddled together with a “big, ball of flames” roaring behind them in the bedroom, said said Fire Chief Marty deMasi. The home’s smoke detector did not go off because the batteries had been removed.
The woman woke her significant other, and he rushed the two boys out of the home, in the 600 block of South McLane.
Meanwhile, the mother went into the boys’ room, filled with smoke and flames and grabbed her 2-year-old son sleeping on a blue car bed, just feet from where the fire was roaring on the bunk beds.
Even though the fire was burning adjacent to the 2-year-old’s bed, he had not woken up. Lockhart explained that the smell of smoke does not wake you up, it actually puts you in a deeper sleep.
Around the same time, Battalion Chief Dan Bramble was driving by on his way to a burn permit inspection when he saw the crowd of people, who waved him down.
Since someone had already called 911, Bramble waited for firefighters to arrive and then took over command.
Firefighters put out the blaze, confining it primarily to the boys’ bedroom, however, the rest of the home was badly damaged by smoke.
The 3-year-old suffered a small burn on his leg and the 5-year-old had a small burn on his arm.
No one else was injured. Neither the property owner nor the family, who was renting the home, had insurance.
“They are very lucky to be alive,” deMasi said.
deMasi said it is crucial to have at least one working smoke detector in a home. Preferably, a detector is placed in every sleeping area and outside of it.
Additionally, “If you have little kids, keep lighters and matches out of their reach,” he said.
The Red Cross is assisting the family.