Children playing with matches may have started a fire at a Millcreek apartment Monday night in which a father did not know his 6-year-old daughter had not gotten out.
Now, the Division of Child and Family Services has been asked by the Unified Fire Authority to get involved.
The fire started about 10:40 p.m. Monday in an apartment at 942 E. Paris Lane. A couple with eight children, ranging from ages 2 to 14, lived in two adjacent apartments. The apartments are connected by a hole the family cut between the two apartments, said UFA Capt. Jay Torgersen.
The mother of the family was at work when the fire started. When firefighters arrived the father reported that everyone had made it out safely. But firefighters still fell back on their training, Torgersen said.
"We don't assume everyone is out. We still operate under the assumption someone may be inside. We always do a complete search, even if we've been told it's unoccupied," he said.
It was during that primary search the two firefighters were surprised to find a young girl unconscious on her bed. The television in her room was still on, and rescuers were able to see her from the reflection on the screen. The girl was not in the room that was on fire, but smoke had drifted into all parts of the apartment, Torgersen said.
Paramedics were able to resuscitate the girl after getting her outside. She was taken to Intermountain Medical Center and then flown to Primary Children's Medical Center.
The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental, although exactly what started it hadn't been determined Tuesday and likely would never be determined, Torgersen said.
"One of the possibilities being looked at is one of the children playing or using matches or lighters," he said. "Both were readily available and accessible to use and play with."
Aside from the smoking materials and the hole in the wall, Torgersen said there were other "concerns about the living conditions" firefighters noticed that prompted them to call DCFS.
The firefighters who rescued the young girl felt good about what they did, Torgersen said.
"She easily could have died from the situation," he said.
A pet dog was killed in the fire.
The fire illustrated the importance of families having an escape plan worked out prior to an actual emergency in their homes. That plan should include a place where the entire family can meet once they're out of the house and a head count can be taken, Torgersen said.
"When you're faced with an emergency, it's not the time to be practicing your plan for the first time," he said.Damage to the apartment was estimated at $50,000. It will be some time before the family will be able to move back in, Torgersen said.
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