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Updated Jan 7, 2014 - 2:03 pm

Glendale program seeks to prevent kid-started fires

PHOENIX -- Kids and matches can be a deadly combination.

Luckily for a Glendale family, an incident involving the two did not turn fatal.

Glendale Fire Department investigators believe two children, ages 3 and 5, are responsible for a setting a house at 4800 W. Thatcher Road on fire Monday. According to Glendale Fire spokesperson Michael Young, the kids were playing with matches in a bedroom at the home when they set a stack of clothes on fire.

"The fire quickly spread to a stereo speaker and other items in the room," he said.

Family members quickly tried to put out the fire. The mother of the children received minor injuries.

Incidents like Monday's are not rare. Every year, children start approximately 56,300 fires, causing the deaths of 110 people across the country, according to statistics gathered by the Glendale Fire Department. The damages of those fires translate to about $286 million and more than 800 people getting hurt.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, one of every seven deadly structure fires are started by children under the age of 15.

To help combat and prevent fires started by youth, the Glendale Fire Department has created the Youth Firesetter Intervention Program. Aimed at children ages 3 to 17, the program educates children at risk of participating in firesetting behavior.

The program has received high recognition by the U.S. Fire Administration as one of the best in the nation.

"We encourage anyone that believes their child or any child that they know of has this type of this fire setting behavior to get into this program," explained Young.

The program is free and open to any Valley child and includes fire safety education, fire science and it also explains the possible outcomes of setting a fire, such as injuries and legal consequences.

"We want to encourage the parents and caretakers to talk to their child about fire and let them know that fire is a tool, not a toy," Young said.

Young encouraged parents to properly use matches and lighters in front of their kids.

"Children, a lot of times, want to mimic what the adult does," he said.

For more information regarding Glendale Fire Department's Youth Firesetter Intervention program, click here.

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