Home Safety Boy, 5, playing with matches starts apartment fire

Boy, 5, playing with matches starts apartment fire


Fire destroyed a second-floor apartment in Brookline Thursday afternoon when a 5-year-old boy playing with matches ignited a mattress, city fire officials said.

The boy’s father, James Bauer, 25, said his son was playing in the bedroom of their apartment at the corner of Brookline Boulevard and Breining Street when Bauer smelled smoke and went in to find the mattress engulfed in flames.

Bauer said he tried to extinguish the fire with a damp towel and ordered the boy’s mother, Jessica Ault, to take their son out of the building. Bauer went to get a fire extinguisher from the apartment building hallway and returned to his apartment.

“By the time I got back in there, the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see anything. I tried to put the fire out, but it wasn’t enough, so I got out of there,” he said.

Nobody was hurt.

Jessica Spratt, 21, who was in another apartment with her son, Nathan, 17 months; her mother Debra Spratt; and her brother Justin Spratt, 24, said the smell of smoke was so strong that it made her sick.

“I grabbed my baby and went out into the hall and saw Jim (Bauer), who said the building was on a fire,” Spratt said. “So I went back inside the apartment to get my mom and brother out.”

Spratt said her apartment does not have smoke detectors. Firefighters said they heard alarms sounding when they arrived but did not know where the detectors were located.

The occupants of two other apartments were not at home when the fire occurred.

Firefighters had to tear through the roof of the two-story building to extinguish the fire. They said Bauer’s apartment and its contents were destroyed. Damage was estimated at about $25,000.

The other three apartments and two businesses on the first floor — a dental office and a tavern — were not damaged.

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