INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A mother has a warning for other parents after fire destroyed her home Wednesday. The woman's message: Keep matches and cigarette lighters away from young children.
A 4-year-old boy fascinated by fire is the cause of the blaze that made a house near Frandsen Road and East Morgan Street unlivable.
"I'm going to stop smoking," Angelina Flores said. "I'm afraid of what's going to happen next time."
Flores says she was working in the kitchen Wednesday when her 4-year-old son, Garion, came in and told her the closet was on fire. When Flores rushed out to look, the entire closet was in flames with fire to the ceiling. A 10-month-old baby was asleep nearby. Flores says it was all she could do to get her three children out safely.
"It literally took seconds for our entire bedroom to be up in flames," Flores said. "I made one mistake, leaving a lighter down. Now we have to find another home. We need to make sure we put stuff like that up now, because I don’t know what the outcome would have been had he not said anything."
Flores says she later learned that Garion had taken one of her cigarette lighters and hid it in his toy box.
She says a day earlier she caught her son burning a paper receipt with a lit cigarette. She planned to take him to the fire station for a lesson on the dangers of playing with fire, but they never made it.
An Independence fire inspector met with Flores and the two are going to work together to counsel the boy and get him into a fire safety class as part of a juvenile fire setter program.