The tragic June 12 fire that left five Kensington children dead was caused by the tots playing with matches, the fire marshal’s office announced yesterday. The blaze in the two-story home, on Amber Street near Cambria, killed Summer Marie Cook, 5; Samantha Bowers, 4; Sabrina Dickson, 2; Amber Johnson, 3; and Reginald Ringgold, 1.
Shannon Bowers, 21, and her boyfriend Lester Cook, 33, were in the burning house and survived by jumping from a second-story window. Bowers lost her daughters – Summer, Samantha and Sabrina – in the one-alarm fire. Amber and Reginald were Cook’s niece and nephew.
Musician Stevie Wonder paid for the children’s funerals.
Two of the children were found in front of the house, possibly because they were trying to escape. All five children died of smoke inhalation and burns, the medical examiner’s office said.
In announcing the cause of the fire, Commissioner Lloyd Ayers urged the public to install at least one smoke alarm on each floor of their homes and near sleeping areas; test smoke alarms weekly; plan and practic an escape route; keep matches and other flame devices away from children; and never allow anyone to use a lighter or matches in an unsafe manner in front of children.