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Child playing with cigarette lighter blamed for fire that left family homeless

Aaron Krause • Sep 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Cory Smith was visiting friends at 89 Milan Ave. Tuesday afternoon when he heard people screaming outside. The home next door was on fire.

(NOTE - To see photos of the fire, click HERE.)

Smith rushed outside and found next door neighbor Kathryn Cordle on the ground, laboring to breath. She'd been carried out of the house due to a fire that destroyed the home Tuesday afternoon.

Smith tried to calm Cordle down.

Tears flowed and people hugged following the fire at 85 Milan Ave. The fire did not injure anybody.

Cordle's niece, Danielle Parsons, said she believes everything in the home was destroyed. Cordle said her 8-year-old son accidentally lit a box on fire, which caused the blaze.

"I don't think he realized the consequences," Cordle said.

Parsons said she was talking to her aunt, when her friend smelled smoke. Parsons and her aunt went upstairs to investigate. They found nothing and came back downstairs. But from outside, they saw smoke emanating from window upstairs. Parsons said her 8-year-old cousin handed her aunt the lighter, which she believes started the fire.

"It was bad, we couldn't breath," Parsons said. "Basically everything is ruined. Everything's gone."

Parsons cried while people tried to comfort her. She said she and her aunt rent the house and don't have insurance.

"We can replace everything," somebody told her.

As she spoke to a reporter, fire trucks and police cars lingered outside the home as authorities and firefighters investigated the fire.

St. Paul High School freshman Ben Silcox, who lives nearby, offered to take up a collection during Mass at school.

Smith, of Norwalk, said he would let Parsons' family stay at his house.

Smith, who is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), was asked what was going through his mind as he carried Cordle out of her house.

"I couldn't believe what was going on," he said, adding he was prepared to administer CPR if Cordle needed it.

Those wishing to donate to the family are asked to call (419) 681-0952 or (419) 921-1686.

This is one of two stories about the fire published in Wednesday's Reflector. To read the other one, pick up a copy of the paper or subscribe to the e-paper for less than $1 per week and read it now.

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