Youth playing with lighter determined to be cause of brush fire

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department’s (SFD) Special Investigation Unit have determined last week’s brush fire near the intersection of Francis and Sutherlin was caused by a youth playing with a lighter.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. on Friday, crews from SFD and Spokane County Fire District 9 (SCFD9) responded to a report of a brush fire threatening multiple homes and outbuildings. The fire was located in a backyard area common to three homes.

Prior to fire department arrival, homeowners were attempting to keep the fire controlled with garden hoses and buckets of water.

Quick action by first arriving firefighters limited the fire damage to a small outbuilding, approximately 30 feet of cedar fencing and the vinyl siding of one home.

Spokane Fire Department provides a free program to support families and youth who have experiences with fire. If you have a child in your life who you believe would benefit from this educational program, regardless of the perceived level of risk, please contact SFD’s Community Risk Reduction Manager, Jamie McIntyre for assistance. McIntyre administers the Youth Firesetter Prevention educational program and can be reached at 509-625-7058.

Each year youth set fires cause hundreds of injuries and deaths and destroy millions of dollars worth of property. All children are at risk for using fire unsafely. Below are a few important safety tips:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Closely supervise children, making sure that they are kept away from other fire sources, including lit candles, cigarettes, bonfires, and stoves.
  • It is natural for young children to be curious and ask questions about fire, play with fire trucks, or pretend to cook. Use these opportunities to teach them about fire safety
  • Explain that fire moves very fast and can hurt as soon as it touches them. Tell them that this is why matches and lighters are tools for adults only.
  • Teach young children to never touch matches or lighters. They must go tell a grown-up when matches or lighters are found.
  • Establish clear rules and consequences about unsupervised and unauthorized uses of fire.
  • Be a good example! Always use fire sources — matches, lighters, candles, fireplaces, and campfires — in a safe manner. Never treat them as toys, or children may imitate you.
  • Talk with children about what their friends or other children are doing with fire. What are they seeing online in video games, on TV, in movies, and on social media? Teach them specific ways to resist the peer pressure to misuse fire.
  • Give praise for showing respect and age-appropriate responsible behavior toward fire.