House fire started by toddlers with matches

By Amy McGillivray

Two toddlers who set fire to a toy clown after getting hold of a box of matches started a blaze that destroyed the master bedroom of their parent's Te Puke home.

The children's' mother called the fire service after discovering the fire in their Allanah Place home about 4.30pm on Monday.

Fire safety officer Ken McKeagg said the fire was caused by a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old playing with matches.

''They set fire to a stuffed clown that was sitting under the bed. This thing was five feet tall. You're talking a big stuffed clown," he said.

When firefighters arrived there was no flames but the toy was still smouldering.

Mr McKeagg said the room became so hot everything plastic, including the light fixtures, was completely melted.

The home owner, who did not wish to be named, said the fire gutted one end of the new house the family moved into two years ago today.

He said his wife and the two children had returned home at about 4pm on Monday .

''My wife was just hanging out the washing. She'd been home about 10 minutes," he said.

"She just smelt something as she came in and she opened the door to the master bedroom and she just saw flames.''

The woman closed the door and took her two children outside.

The father said there were usually two boxes of matches kept on a 1.5m high shelf in the pantry but one was missing after the fire. The toddlers must have used a chair to climb up and get the matches, he said.

''They've managed to get them out from there and have done it within 10 minutes.''

The family were staying with neighbours while repairs were done and insurance assessors approved the claim.

He expected it would take about a month to repair.

The two Te Puke fire trucks were at the home for about an hour and a half.

Fire chief Glenn Williams said the family were lucky the fire did not do more damage.

He said it was a good reminder to shut doors to contain the fire and smoke and to make sure matches and lighters were well out of the reach of children.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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