MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A Memphis family is dealing with a range of emotions after five boys under the age of 10 escaped a deadly house fire Monday morning.
Family members said the flames gutted their home, but they are grateful the children made it out OK. The fire started around 10 a.m. in the 4500 block of Willow Road.
Family members spent the day salvaging any items that could inside the severely damaged home. Those family members told Local 24 News the father of the boys went for an errand – and when he came back – the house was on fire, Memphis firefighters were on scene, and Memphis Police would show up for another reason.
“My nerves, it was like my heart was in my throat,” Regina Allen – the grandmother of the children – said.
Those were the dramatic moments Monday morning for the family of five boys, who escaped a burning home while their father left to run an errand.
“He left real quick to try and get something for them, and before he could get back the neighbors had got them out the house,” Allen said.
The children’s grandmother said the fire was started by her three-year-old grandson, who was playing with a lighter near a mattress.
“They said he’s the one who did it, you know, he’s a busy body,” Allen said. “This could have been worse than what it is.”
Allen said she’s also thankful next door neighbors made sure the children were outside – and OK – as Memphis firefighters came on scene.
“It’s the best thing that they could have ever did,” Allen said.
Since the children were alone at the time of the fire, Memphis Police also investigated the case as a child neglect call and officers detained the father.
He’s not been officially charged.
“I’m not looking at it like he neglected them in any type of way because they are well taken care of, it’s just that he had to take care of his kids the best way he could while the mom was at work,” Allen said.
Family members said a dog given as a Christmas present died inside the home.
The U.S. Fire Administration reminds parents to keep smoking items locked up in high places away from children and to never play with lighters or matches in front of children.