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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.

About the Author

Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.


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