~This page is dedicated to to all the little children, that they might live. It is about true cases where death and suffering resulted from children playing with matches.
WARNING! If you do not like to read about what happens as the results of fire,
PLEASE DO NOT READ ON. ~The book by this title was written by me many years ago, several publishers turned the book down, saying the American people do not read anymore, they watch television, well today they are on the WWW and the message must get out,This page copyrighted 1997© by Lloyd Peterson, Not to be copied, reprinted, reproduced, etc. without permission. No part of this site or any material within this site may be used without the expressed written permission from the author.~

~The Picture is not pretty but the stories are true. The second part of this page, CHILDREN AND MATCHES, will teach you about what to do about the problem of children playing with matches.~



~It was about 11:00 A.M. when the excited voice yelled out over the fire phone into the dispatchers ear. "The house is on fire, the house is on fire." The dispatcher calmed her down and she gave him the address. It was in the Housing Project in Southwest Seattle, where the living units are close together.~

~As the fire trucks arrived near the scene thick black smoke could be seen rising into the sky, no flames could be seen. A hole was cut into the roof to release the trapped smoke, heat and toxic fire gasses and we entered the house. The fire was confined to the rear bedroom with flames licking across the hallway into the master bedroom and into the livingroom, as the fire was being extinguished, one of the firefighters called out, "I've found two victims."~

~I went into the master bedroom where the call had came from and seen two tiny children crouched on the floor in the corner. The boy age 3 was dead, his sister age 2 was still alive, she was given oxygen and rushed to the hospital in the aid-car where she died one hour later of smoke inhalation. They had not been touched by the fire in their bedroom."~

~A search was made thruout the unit for other victims, none were found. A neighbor said the children,s father was away in the navy and the mother worked in downtown Seattle as a waitress, and that she often left the children unattended. This would be the last time.~

~The fire had started in the children's bedroom on the lower bunkbed, where it spread it's deadly gases and flames to the drapes and a plastic hobbyhorse. Several burnt matchbooks and matches were found on the floor and bed. The children had been playing with matches. They had ran into their mothers bedroom for safety and comfort when the fire started but she was not there and they died. Fire had claimed two more tiny victims."~

~The neighbors who had heard the children's screams from nextdoor tried to enter the unit to rescue them but were driven back by the heat and smoke. One said,"I tried to get inside and find them, but I just couldn't breath ." The fire damage was less than $1,000, and can be repaired or replaced, but what about the lives?~

~The mother arrived home about four hours later and I had to tell her of her loss. She stated to me, "I left them alone before." She was charged with two counts of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of her children and recieved six months probation. She will live with it the rest of her life. We will see the tiny children over and over again in our dreams and flashbacks at other fire scenes.~


~As the dispatcher put the phone to his ear, he heard the voice yell out, "there dead, there all dead." It was Mrs. J. she had gone to the store "for a few minutes" and came back to find the house full of smoke. She crawled on her hands and knees thru the house to the children's bedroom where she found their lifeless bodies.~

All three were dead, a girl 3 and two boys 4 and 6 years old. The girl was in the bed, the blankets still clutched in her tiny hands, pulled over her head so she could not see the fire and smoke, the 4 year old sitting in the corner with his small hands over his eyes and the 6 year old was on his hands and knees inside the closet, also with his hands over his eyes. If you can't see it, it won't hurt you.?~

~The typical burnt matches and matchbook were on the floor near the melted plastic wastebasket, the fallen burnt drapes and curtains laying across the plastic basket of cloths which were smoldering, and the children, the beautiful children who had tried to hide from the fire and smoke. "Oh my God, Why?"~


~The young female voice was screaming over the fire phone, "the house is on fire and I can't get the children", then the phone was hung up, no address! A few minutes late it rang again, it was a neighbor reporting flames in the house nextdoor now we knew where to go.~

~As we arrived, the flames were reaching for the sky thru the side window heavy smoke was comming out the open front door. A girl 14 years old ran up to me as I got out of the fire truck, screaming, "the children are in there, the children are in there, please save them, I'll get in trouble." She was and they were...~

~She was the babysitter, the children had been in in their bedroom playing with the door closed for a long time as she talked to her boyfriend on the phone. She had heard screaming comming from behind the closed bedroom door for some time and went to check when it did not stop, she opened the door and was met by a wall of flames, smoke and screams. She could not reach or see the children.~

~The children, ages 18 months, 3, 4, 6, and 7 all died a horrible painfull death of burns. Thy were huddled in the corner, except the baby who was on the burning bed. They had been playing , playing with matches that is, as all childen will do, and trying to hide from it so they would not get punished or see it. You all know the saying, "What you can't see won't hurt you"?~

~The coronor took the children away, an a amblance took the histerical babysitter away. It will take a very long time for her to forget, if ever. It will happen again, and we will see it again and again and again.~


~I had just arrived home with my family from a movie and heard my direct phone from the dispatch center ringing as I opened the front door. It was 10:30 P.M. and I was requested to investigate a triple fatality house fire. Can't fire take a day off, will it ever end ?~

~It was a small house at the end of a dead-end street, the fire had been extinguished but I could still smell the sickning , eye watering mattress smoke. It was laying on the front lawn, a hole about 12" in diameter was burnt into it. The Battalion Chief handed me several books of matches he had found near the bed. The mother had been transported to the hospital in shock.~

~The three children lay huddled in the bedroom closet, a baby age 6 months of age in the arms of the 5 year girl, the 7 year old boy still had a book of matches clutched in his hand (the death grip). Their pajama's were un-burnt, the smoldering fire had not touched them. The silent killer, Carbon Monoxide had taken their young lives.~
BR> ~The next day the doctors at the hospital allowed me to interview the mother who was sadated. She stated she had caught her 7 year old son playing with matches before and had spanked him, she thought he had learned his lesson. She said the children were in bed when she left the house, "I was just across the street"~


~The five year old boy had awaken his parents in their upstairs bedroom, he was crying and saying, "the house is on fire." They could see the smoke comming up the stairs across the ceiling and into their bedroom. They all managed to get down the stairs and outside. the father got the garden hose and attempted to extinguish the growing blaze. No one called the fire department only one block away. Soon the heat, smoke and flames drove the father from the house, he ran to the neighbors home to report the fire.~

~When the fire engines arrived after the long delayed call the house was totaly involved, with flames comming from the doors and windows. Hostilities were encountered by yelling neighbors of the victims who thought the call did not recieve prompt action from the fire department. They did not know they had been called late, they all thought someone else had called as so often happens in reporting fires,accidents and crimes.~

~The fire had started in the boys bedroom, by him playing with matches, He had "spit" on it to put it out, then thrown his cloths and blankets on it but it would not go out. He ran back and forth to the bathroom, throwing glass after glass of water on the fire, it got bigger and bigger and started going across the ceiling over his head, so he ran upstairs to tell his parents. He did not hide as in most fires involving children who think they can hide from fire.~

~Interviewing the boy, I noted he had large festering blisters on both hands, the blisters between his tiny fingers were so large he could not bring his fingers together. the burns were not from this fire. I asked him how he recieved the burns and he said, "YESTERDAY I was playing with matches in my bedroom and daddy caught me and put my hands over the fire on the kitchen stove so I would not do it again."~

~The father and mother said the boy has been a problem, "he is always playing with matches or starting small fires in the house, we spank him each time, but he does not seem to learn." I asked them, What will you do this time, cut off the boy's hands?." The father just scrugged his sholders, the mother cried and said, "we have lost everything." Not this time lady, not this time..~


~The family was renting the small house in Southwest Seattle, they were behind on their rent as the father had lost his job, his unemployment had ran out and they were now living on Welfare. Things were bad but they were about to get worse.~

~The father got up early to go look for a job, when he left his wife and two children were still in bed sleeping as they had been up late trying to figure out how they were going to eat as their food stamps and money were all gone. But the children were not asleep long.~

~The two boys, ages four and five had gotten out of bed and found some matches on the livingroom coffee table, they went back into their bedroom and sat upon their bed. The five year old later told me, "I only lit one little match." He held the match untill it got too hot for his little fingers and he dropped it on the bed and his coloring book which ignited. Their untrained minds could not tell them what to do. They watched the fire get bigger and bigger, then ran out and told their mother, who upon waking said the flames and smoke were racing across the ceiling. They got out the bedroom window and ran next door to call the fire department, no one was home so they ran to the next house to call.~

~The house and it's contents were a total loss. But the lives were saved this time. The fire fighters wives were soon on the phone to the Red Cross and collecting food, clothing, and shelter for the family. It only took one little match.~


~The young mother woke up , the smoke was swirling across the bedroom ceiling, she was coughing and could not speak, but in her mind all she could think about was her children. She shook her husband awake and he jumped out of bed into the heated smoke and gases around his head and dropped to his knees and they crawled into the children's bedroom. The two boys, one and three years old were sitting on the floor against the wall crying, the older boys bed was on fire, a book of matches lay next to the bed.~

~They each picked up a boy and crawled to the front door, there were no flames to be seen but the house was full of heat and smoke. As they opened the front door, the house seemed to explode in flames which leaped over their heads and out the door opening. They had escaped unharmed but all their possessions were lost in the flames.~

~Children will continue to play with matches and die as a result. Fire Departments are teaching your school age children of the danger. I will tell you some danger signs and how to deal with the problem.~

~Do you believe only "bad boys" play with matches and lighters? Well let me tell you that you are wrong. Haven't you seen your small child or other children smoking a cigarette ? They see adults lighting matches and cigarettes everyday, yet they are told they can not do it. Have you taken the time to sit down with them and explained or shown them the danger of such activities for a small child.~


Your small child will not tell you if he has started a fire playing with matches because he is afraid he will get a spanking and he thinks he can hide from it. Take the advantage of discussing a fire in the news on TV or in the paper.~

~If you find your child playing with matches, do not burn his fingers or spank him as this will not stop his natural inclination to experiment, he will only do it more, in places where he will not get caught and punished, such as behind a closed bedroom door, in a closet, under the house in the basement the garage or outside on the dry grass.~

~Go to the store and purchase a whole box of matches books or wooden matches. Sit down with the child in a safe place and let him light the matches, all of them not just a few. When he say's "Mommy/Daddy, I'm tired" or "I don't want to light anymore matches", just keep letting him light the matches. Do this for several days and he will never want to see a match again, let alone light one. But do not stop there, point out to him the danger of playing with matches or fire, teach them they can not hide from the deadly gases and the flames. Remember they are too young to burn.~

~Once after giving a fire prevention talk to a group of parents, a lady came up to me and said, "but my son is 10 years old and keeps playing with matches and starting fires.", I told her let me tell you about your son, he still wets his bed, he has few friends, he does poorly in school, he is always "sick" and wants to stay home from school, there has been a divorce or separation with no father in the home or a "new" father has taken his place, and he was a premature birth. She said, "all of those things are true, how did you know" ? This is a problem child in regards to playing with matches and fire and will continue untill phychiatric help and therapy are sought, he is sick and seeking attention, the problem will not go away by itself. Seek and you shall find...~

Lloyd, October 7, 2000
My mom was just looking through your site and thinks that it deserves my Rescue Heroes award. I am only 4 years old but I know that I want to be a fire fighter when I grow up. Thank you for being a hero.


How about it Firefighters, this four year old "Honorary Firefighter deserves your site Awards. Thanks, Lloyd


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