Boys' sparkler sets home afire
By MIKE BRASSFIELD
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 4, 2001
SEMINOLE -- Mom had stepped outside for a few minutes, and the two young boys couldn't resist the stash of fireworks: 10-inch Morning Glory sparklers that burned in different colors.
In almost no time Tuesday, they started a fire that burned most of the house. Only a few clothes and some food from the refrigerator could be salvaged.
It was the second time in three days that Pinellas County children playing with fireworks set a home afire.
The mother who owns the home at 9269 82nd Way N in Seminole could only warn other parents to learn from her misfortune and hide their fireworks.
"Look out, because it could happen," Tammy Valltos said. "They're just like guns. Lock 'em up."
Valltos stepped away from her house for a few minutes Tuesday afternoon to talk to a neighbor, Sharon Canton, authorities said. Left alone in Valltos' house were her 4-year-old son and Canton's 6-year-old son.
The boys lit a sparkler and then couldn't put it out. It caught a living-room chair on fire, and the flames quickly spread to some curtains, said Alison Shanabrook, spokeswoman for the Seminole Fire Department.
The boys tried to put out the fire with a bucket of water, but the flames had climbed too high, Shanabrook said. The boys ran outside to get their mothers.
Fire engines soon appeared in the neighborhood between Bardmoor Elementary School and Bardmoor Country Club. Firefighters arrived about 1:25 p.m. and extinguished the fire in 10 minutes.
The fire caused an estimated $60,000 in damage and rendered the house uninhabitable. Flames destroyed the living room and dining room, and smoke damaged the kitchen and two bedrooms.
Florida law allows the use of sparklers for entertainment.
"These are the kind that are deemed safe by the state -- but not inside a home, of course," Shanabrook said. "The nature of a sparkler is, you're going to have sparks flying."
The two boys, whose names are being withheld because of their ages, will have to attend a court-mandated fire education program for juveniles.
On Sunday, a St. Petersburg house caught on fire when a 9-year-old boy played with fireworks in his bedroom. The fire burned the boy's room and sent smoke and soot throughout the home at 1429 44th St. S, causing about $10,000 in damage.
The boy put one of the pieces from an assorted pack of fireworks on top of his bed's headboard and lit it while he was alone in the house. His father had left for a few minutes to go to a grocery store.
The device, the kind that emits sparks, fell from the headboard, catching the bedding and carpet on fire.
The single most important rule for fireworks, said St. Petersburg fire Lt. Chris Bengivengo, is to have adult supervision.
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