ST. JOSEPH — A fire set by a toddler in a pile of clothes did about $8,000 worth of damage to a St. Joseph apartment Wednesday morning and sent his father to an area hospital for a burn to his hand.
St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District Chief Rusty Chism said firefighters were called to the home of Greg A. Smith, 23, at 1921 Chateau in St. Joseph at 10:35 a.m.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Coile, Smith had been sleeping in the bedroom when he was awakened by the sound of his 3-year-old son screaming.
Smith saw flames beside his bed and took his son and 7-month-old daughter out of the apartment to a neighbor’s next door, Coile said.
Smith then went back in and attempted to put the fire out using an extinguisher, Chism said. He burned a hand and was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital where he was treated and released.
Smith and the children were safely out when firefighters arrived at the four-unit building. Chism said firefighters saw smoke coming out the door when they pulled up.
Chism said he talked to the boy and learned that he had obtained a cigarette lighter from another room and was playing with it in a pile of clothes next to the bed.
About a half dozen firefighters were at the apartment for about an hour getting the smoke out and assessing the damage.