Child playing with lighter starts house fire; Damage limited to closet, bedroom

A four-year-old child playing with a lighter started a house fire in a closet on Monday in a single family home just north of Pavillion. The fire was reported at 9:30 a.m. and it was quickly extinguished without any injuries and only minor damage.

“The smoke detectors in the house went off and a 20-year-old man in the house got the kids out, then ran back inside and closed all the doors containing the damage to the one bedroom,” said Ron Wempen, Fremont County Firewise Coordinator. “One of the boys in the home got ahold of a lighter somewhere in the house and began playing with it. We believe he started some clothing on fire in a closet.”

Fortunately, Wempen said the house was equipped with smoke detectors, which assisted in the rapid response. Initially, he said Fremont County Fire District Battalions from Riverton, Morton-Kinnear, Midvale, Missouri Valley and Pavillion were summoned, but Pavillion firefighters got there and used only 25 gallons of water to put out the fire. Damage was limited to minor fire damage in the closet and smoke damage. “The home can be repaired easily in a few days allowing the family to move back in,” he said. Wempen noted that sheet rock enclosed the closet and the fire didn’t have a chance to spread into the attic.

“We did some small counseling with the boy, who was sobbing the whole time,” Wempen said. “I think he learned an important lesson. I also think he was afraid of all the firefighters in their gear.”