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Investigators say child with lighter caused house fire in Springfield

Published On: Jan 16 2014 07:04:05 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 16 2014 10:53:15 PM CST

The injured included two adults and three children.


Firefighters say a child playing with a lighter started a fire injuring five people on Thursday in west Springfield.

Firefighters say the child was playing with the lighter while the two adults in the house slept.  The two suffered critical burns in the fire.  Three children were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. 

Natalie Modglin, who was in a car in the parking lot of a nearby nursing home, says a violent explosion shook her car about 2 p.m.  She then saw a woman crawling out of the house and screaming for help, followed by a man on fire who ran out the front of the house.  Modglin and a man than ran to the backyard and grabbed two children in diapers and took them to a car.

Emergency responders found the two adults with third-degree burns over most of their bodies in the yard outside the home.  They also found the two children in Modglin's car nearby.  They appear to have suffered smoke inhalation.  Later, firefighters learned a third child was taken from the home to a neighbor's house by a third adult who was in the home.

While attempting to turn off utilities to the house, a fitting to a gas main failed and a natural gas leak ensued.  People on scene were told to back away from the area until crews could cap off the leak.

The adults are in the burn unit at Mercy Hospital in critical condition.  They are a 28-year-old woman and 31-year-old man.  The children have apparently minor injuries and were being observed in an emergency room late in the afternoon.  They are ages 1, 2, and 5. 

The fire was near Lafontaine Avenue, a couple of blocks west of Kansas Expressway.   The smoke from the fire was visible several miles away. 

Neighbors of the burned home saw flames coming out the windows.  The inside and much of the outside of the home is blackened by the flames.  The home is destroyed.

People in the area originally reported hearing loud explosions coming from the house.  Investigators say those sounds were likely caused by household items exploding from the intense heat- things like windows and aerosol cans.