Edgewater home burns to ground

Last update: 05 June 2003

EDGEWATER -- A 12-year-old boy playing with a lighted candle sparked a blaze Wednesday night that left his family homeless, according to fire officials.

Steven Williams was home alone while his mother took some cookies to church when the fire broke out shortly before 7:20 p.m.

State Fire Marshal Alan Kaye said the boy told him he was playing with some papers around the candle in the living room of his Needle Palm Drive home and the papers caught fire.

The youngster took the papers into his mother's room and covered them with a towel. Thinking the flames were out, Steven went back into the living room to watch television, Kaye said. A few minutes later the house was filled with smoke.

"It was accidental," the investigator said.

The boy tried to extinguish the flames -- burning himself on the arms and chest -- before he ran to a nearby house.

"He was screaming and crying," neighbor Sarah Lange said. "I called 911. I could not believe how quickly the Fire Department got here."

However, it was too late to save the home.

"When the first engine arrived, flames had blown out every door and window," Edgewater Fire Chief Tracey Barlow said.

Barlow said fire crews were able to rescue the family dog. It received first aid for smoke inhalation at the scene before being taken to a nearby animal hospital. Two pet birds did not survive.

Steven's mother, Mary Jo Williams, said after taking Steven to the hospital, she and her four children would stay with family members Wednesday night.

"We lost just about everything," she said as neighbors offered the family clothes, shoes and even toothbrushes.

-- Mark I. Johnson