Three small children are fighting for their lives at University Medical Center after suffering smoke inhalation from a fire in their downtown apartment. Las Vegas firefighters rescued the children from the apartment and transported them to UMC in critical condition. Fire investigators believe the children were playing with a lighter or matches which started the fire.
Fire dispatchers received several calls at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday that smoke was coming from an upstairs apartment in the Hidden Village apartment complex which is located at 1825 Lewis Ave. (Charleston/Eastern).
When firefighters arrived, several people were standing at the front door of the apartment. One neighbor tried crawling into the apartment to look for the children; she had to back off because the smoke was so intense. Another neighbor and a security officer for the apartment complex broke out a front window to one of the bedrooms to use the fire extinguisher. In the process the neighbor was cut by broken glass and he had to be taken to the hospital for a severe laceration.
Firefighters entered the smoke-filled apartment and found a mattress on fire in one of two bedrooms inside the apartment. Firefighters had the fire out in less than a minute. Firefighters were also conducting a search of the apartment and found one of the children lying on the bed in the other bedroom. A further search also found two more children lying on the floor in separate corners in the bedroom. Two of the children, a boy and girl twins are three years old and the other is a boy five years old. All were unresponsive when firefighters found them. They were immediately transported by firefighters to UMC.
Fire damage was confined to the one bedroom, mostly the mattress and a few other items. There was minor smoke damage throughout the rest of the apartment. Damage was estimated at $5,000
Fire investigators ruled the fire accidental, the result of the children playing with matches or a lighter. Both items were found in the room where the fire originated.
There were reports that the children were left unattended when the fire started. There was no adult on scene when firefighters arrived, although a woman was on scene a few minutes later who said she was the children’s mother. There were also reports that a babysitter was supposed to be there. All of this is unclear and is now under investigation by Metro Police.
Matches and lighters are extremely dangerous items in the hands of small children. Children that usually play with matches or lighters are usually under seven years of age. It is typical for them to hide after a fire starts because they believe they can escape by hiding. Many times they will go to a place where they feel the safest.
Matches and lighters should be handled the same as a gun in a home. They should be locked in a place where children can never get to them. Children should never be permitted to touch matches or lighters.
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