Two Young Brothers Started Blaze That Killed Them in Washington

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. (AP) -- Two young brothers who died this week in an apartment fire likely started the blaze while playing with a cigarette lighter, fire investigators say.

City Fire Marshal Steve Sherman said investigators found a lighter inside a large walk-in closet where the boys, ages 4 and 6, were either playing or sleeping Monday.

A small can of lighter fluid was found outside the closet. The fire started at the closet entrance, blocking the boys' only escape route, Sherman said.

It's unclear whether lighter fluid was spilled on the floor or exactly how the fire spread.

The boys were home with their father, grandfather, aunt and 13-month-old cousin in a unit of the Village Square Apartments when the fire started, The Herald reported.

The boy's father was asleep in the bedroom and woke up after the fire started. He apparently ran out of the room thinking the boys were outside, Sherman said.

The father helped the grandfather escape and tried to go back for his sons. He broke through a window but was forced back by the intense heat and smoke.

Fire crews battled the two-alarm fire but were unable to reach the boys.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press