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Kids Playing with Matches Blamed for Apartment Fire

Kids Playing with Matches Blamed for Apartment Fire

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Sarah Dallof ReportingFire investigators believe kids playing with lighters and matches started a three-alarm blaze that has displaced a dozen families.

The fire pretty much gutted the building, causing up to $1.5 million in damages. Now we're learning just how lucky people were to get out alive.

We were at the complex all afternoon Saturday, and we heard stories about the danger and about how people scrambled to help their neighbors.

Luis lost everything Friday night, everything but Rocky, his puppy. Rocky was on Luis' third-floor balcony when the fire started; Luis was at work. There was no way to get Rocky down, or so it seemed.

Chrisopher Sandoval scaled three balconies to save his friend's dog, pausing only briefly on the second porch. "The balcony started breaking off. I thought I was going to fall," he said.

He didn't fall, and Sandoval carried the terrified dog part of the way, then handed him to someone below. The ironic part is Sandoval doesn't even like dogs. He says, "I just can't stand seeing things get hurt."

Firefighters were able to get all the people out of the burning building.

Saturday they revealed the cause of the fire: kids in a second-floor apartment.

Travis Hanberg, with Unified Fire Department, said, "One of the children had been sent to their room and was playing with matches or a cigarette lighter and caught the bedspread on fire."

The family denies it, claiming the fire was caused by an electrical outlet. Firefighters say no. "There's no evidence at the scene that would lead investigators to think that's the cause," Hanberg said.

Luis didn't want to talk about the fire or how it started. He just talked about how grateful he is to Sandoval, and how happy he is that his best friend is OK.

Fire investigators say the children are too young to be charged with any crime. They do plan to hold meetings with their parents, to reinforce the dangers of kids and matches.

The displaced residents have been moved to empty apartments in the complex. The Red Cross is also helping them.

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