Child’s play leaves 14 displaced after Lauderhill apartment fire

LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - An apartment complex fire that left 14 Lauderhill residents stranded, Monday night, was all started by a little boy who was playing with fire.

According to Lauderhill Fire Rescue, the fire affected six units in the building, located along the 5200 block of Northwest 19th Street. The fire spread onto the roof, which is why so many apartments were affected, according to Assistant Chief Jeff Levy.

The fire was extinguished shortly after 9 p.m.

Tuesday morning, residents who hoped to retrieve their belongings inside of their apartments were unable to, since the City of Fort Lauderdale declared the building unsafe to enter. Nearly everything inside the apartment building is a total loss.

The American Red Cross and the South Florida Rehab and Support team arrived to the scene, Tuesday morning, to assist this family and the others who were displaced.

Levy said a boy playing with a lighter accidentally set a bed on fire.  “I was playing with the car,” said the 7-year-old boy. “I actually touched it and put the fire in it, and then the fire went to the bed.”

The boy tried to put the fire out on his own before alerting anyone else, but the flames consumed the apartment and smoke spread to other units. “I just get a pot and then put water in it,” he said, “and I got more water and poured it out.”

Firefighters helped residents out of the affected units.

“The child was a little upset,” said Lauderhill Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Levy. “We started questioning the child. Rightfully he was nervous and upset. Finally he admitted to the fire investigators that he was playing with a lighter–he was curios playing with the lighter and lit some plastic on fire. He tried to put the fire out himself, got a pot out of the kitchen. Unfortunately there was a delay at that point–the room is fully consumed in fire.”

Nine people lived in the apartment that was consumed by flames.

Now, the entire family will have to undergo a fire education course to ensure this doesn’t happen again, fire officials said.

“It’s basically about awareness” said a fire official. “For that child, when he sees that lighter, or candle, or the stove is on, that he will stop because that is what he will learn in this class, to go get an adult.”

The young boy has definitely learned a valuable lesson in fire safety. “I want to tell them don’t play with it,” said the little boy, “just put it back where it came from.”

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