Calgary

Kids burn down house under construction

Two young children playing with matches started a large fire that damaged several homes in a southeast neighbourhood.
Two houses in Calgary's Auburn Bay community were destroyed Saturday by a fire that started in a house under construction. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Two young children playing with matches started a large fire that damaged several homes in a southeast neighbourhood.

Police and fire officials came to the conclusion after investigating a July 9 morning fire on Auburn Glen Garden that started in an empty home under construction. The blaze caused $900,000 in damage, destroying two houses and damaging more than a dozen neighbouring structures.

The brothers that started the fire were only 3 and 8 years old.

"The house was up in three to five minutes time, fully involved, and so that's a pretty scary situation. You think that kids were playing with fire and within that period of time someone would have certainly been dead if they were within that structure," said fire department spokesman Brian McCasey.

Kids using matches is a leading cause of house fires, especially fires that cause injuries, he said.

"It's too common," he said. "We've had a number of fires this year that are caused by kids playing with fire and it's a sad situation, obviously."

In a statement released Friday, police and fire officials had advice for parents.

"Children have a natural curiosity about fire and are tempted to play with matches or lighters left within their reach. Ensure that all matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children. Store them up high, preferably in a locked cabinet and explain that matches and lighters are tools and not toys," the statement said.

Teach young children to notify an adult when they see matches or a lighter laying around, fire and police officials added.