Authorities: Children playing with fire in deadly blaze

Associated Press

Last update: 09 October 2003

JACKSONVILLE -- Two children who died in a mobile home fire were apparently playing with matches or a lighter in their bedroom when the blaze started, authorities said.

The Monday fire that killed the two boys, ages 3 and 4, started at the base of bunk beds in the bedroom, said Jacksonville fire rescue spokesman Tom Francis.

The boys' mother, Christiana Harden, was at home when she smelled smoke and went looking for her two sons, officials said.

She discovered the fire but was unable to retrieve the boys and ran outside screaming for help. Two neighbors tried to get inside the mobile home but were unable to because of the flames, officials said.

Firefighters broke a window to gain entry and crawled around on the floor to find the boys in a bathroom next to the bedroom, Francis said.

They died of smoke and soot inhalation associated with carbon monoxide intoxication, according to a medical examiner's report.

Francis said the mobile home had a smoke detector. He said the boys may have gone into the bathroom to hide or feared being punished for starting the fire.


Information from: The Florida Times-Union,