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Published: Sunday, 12/19/2004

Boy with lighter sets family home on fire

A 9-year-old North Toledo boy set his family's house on fire yesterday by playing with a lighter in a front bedroom of the home, officials said.

The fire left six people - four adults and two children - without living accommodations. The local chapter of the American Red Cross is helping them with temporary housing, Gary Martin, Toledo fire battalion chief, said.

The fire, reported at 10:26 a.m., caused $20,000 damage to 926 Peck St. It apparently started when a blanket was ignited, Chief Martin said.

Owner-occupant Melvin Knotts, 34, was home at the time. So was his stepfather, Larry Pringle, 54, and Mr. Knotts' children, a 12-year-old daughter and the 9-year-old son, according to Michael Smith, arson investigator.

All four were treated for minor smoke inhalation at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, but otherwise escaped unharmed, Mr. Smith said.

The investigator did not release the children's names. Two others who lived in the house, Mr. Knotts' wife and another adult relative, were not home. Their names were not known, Mr. Smith said.

The house was not insured and did not have smoke detectors installed. The boy is expected to undergo a fire-prevention program to learn about the dangers of playing with a lighter, Mr. Smith said.

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