LOCAL NEWS (FLORIDA TODAY)

Fire chief: 4-year-old started apartment blaze

Mom, children now homeless

By Lourdes Briz
FLORIDA TODAY

TITUSVILLE -- A fire started by a 4-year-old left one mother and her two children homeless Sunday.

The fire started at 9:50 a.m. at Forest Park Apartments on 519 Rockpit Road, one block west of Park Avenue, said Scott Gaenicke, public information officer for the Titusville Fire Department.

The fire was confined to one of the six units in the apartment building and caused about $40,000 worth of damage.

"The state fire marshal investigated and determined one of the children set the bed on fire with a cigarette lighter," Gaenicke said.

On Jan. 19, a fire in the Bahama Apartments in Melbourne left eight people homeless.

No one was injured in the Titusville fire and it took firefighters about 30 minutes to put out the blaze.

Gaenicke said there have been about five fires in Titusville this month, and at least two of those were caused by children.

"Three weeks ago, we had a fire under similar circumstances," he said. "A child set the bed on fire with a cigarette lighter that one of his parents had left lying around."

He advised parents to leave lighters or matches out of children's reach.

"Teach your children not to play with fire or matches. These things are not toys. Just don't have them where your child can get to them," he said.