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

Cory Smith was visiting friends at a Milan Avenue residence Tuesday afternoon when he heard people screaming outside. The home next door was on fire.
Aaron Krause
Sep 26, 2012


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.


Nic Williams

Feel terrible for this family. So sad.

Norwalkian Damsel

These folks just don't know how to spell!!


Glad no one was hurt,my heart goes out to the family,i survived a fire in may,altho i sustained serious burns,i escaped with my life.
The tramatic fear of being in a fire never goes away.
You wouldnt understand it unless you been there.
My heart is with you Kathryn.
I am praying for you and your family.


In the begining of the article it says Cory Smith found his neighbor laying on the ground, but as we came upon the scene we found that he actually entered the fire and carried the woman from it. Cory is a hero for his fast acting and thinking along with offering them to stay at his home. I hope the Reflector corrects this and gives this young man the recognition he deserves. Way to go! We are praying for the family and hope as a great community we can all pitch in to help them start over.

what the eff

I just dont think i agree with hanging this on an 8 year old..He might have contributed to what happened here..I just dont know if its beneficial to make an 8 year old try to absorb this. the trauma of being 8 and burning down the family home may be more than an 8 year old brain needs to handle..there are other way to handle this..

Nic Williams

Very true.


Lemme guess, it was one of those big long lighters you light a grill with, right? Parents need to be very diligent with those. Anything that produces a flame use extra caution.


So glad no one was seriously hurt..I have some household items & maybe some clothes..If any one knows the family, please get the info for us..I'm sure we can give them something to help start over..Thx


I feel very sorry for this family. This is the second horrible thing that has happened to them in just a few short years. I do want to say one thing though and I don't mean to be harsh, but please watch your children. One has died and another could have. Accidents happen because of the lack of parental supervision.