Child starts apartment fire, officials say

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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An 8-year-old started a fire that damaged a bedroom of an apartment in the VanMall Neighborhood on Monday night, according to fire officials.

Vancouver firefighters were called at 7:42 p.m. to a bottom-floor apartment of the Springfield Meadows Apartment Homes, 4317 N.E. 66th Ave.

The child had used a lighter to ignite some materials in the bedroom, said Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli.

The fire spread but sprinklers doused most of the flames.

"Automatic fire sprinklers keep fires small," Scarpelli said. "The (loss) potential was really great."

The fire caused an estimated $2,500 in damage.

Fire officials are working with the child and family by providing fire safety education.

Scarpelli said that it's worth reminding people that children often mimic the actions of adults, which can include using matches or a lighter.

"It's really important for adults and parents to keep matches and lighters out of reach of young children," she said.