Officials Say Children Playing With Matches Started Fire

Danville, VA - An apartment fire in Danville left four families without a home Thursday, and now the fire marshal says that fire could have been prevented.

Officials say two small children accidentally started the fire. No one was hurt, but four families, including the mother of those children, have lost almost everything they had.

The blaze started around 3 p.m. in the 1700 block of North Main in Danville.

"We got called to North Main Street to a possible structure fire. We had a two-story house with heavy fire and smoke showing from the second floor and on the back side of it," said Michael Jefferson - the battalion chief for the Danville Fire Department.

The two children who lived in the duplex - just 3 and 4 years old - have been found to be the cause of that fire.

"The fire marshals went in there and they've done an investigation, and talking with the family and kids, it was caused by kids playing with matches," said Jefferson.

The mother of the children did not want to talk on camera, but she says she was asleep at the time the blaze started. She awoke to her children talking about a bright light and she soon realized it was fire.

John Brown lived at the duplex and says an accident has cost him everything.

"I wasn't home. I was on my way to work and when I got back home from work, I ain't have nowhere to go. It looked just like this," said Brown. "I lost all my clothes, my TV, stereo's all gone. Now I have to start over from scratch."

Jefferson says to avoid these kinds of situations, it is important to teach children fire safety at an early age.

"With small kids and stuff, you can't start too early. You need to go ahead and tell them now don't play with matches. The earlier the better."

The Red Cross has stepped in to help these families. All of them have been provided local hotel accommodations.