Toddler killed in fire, playing with lighter - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/24/09

Toddler killed in fire, playing with lighter

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LUBBOCK, TX. (KCBD) - The fire that claimed the life of 3-year-old Christian Degraff could have been prevented. That's according to the Lubbock Fire Marshal's Office, who says the family did not have a working smoke detector. Fire officials say the combination of kids and lighters is deadly. The fire may have still happened, but the tragedy and loss of the 3-year-old could have been avoided if smoke detectors had given the family advanced warning. 

"Just imagine what 30 seconds would do if you're trying to get out a relatively small house," says Garett Nelson with the Fire Marshal's Office. But the Degraff family didn't have the warning, because they didn't have a smoke detector. The Degraff family's tragedy is a lesson to learn from "a 3-year-old or any child that's left alone with an opportunity and a lighter is going to play with it I don't care how good you think that child is - they're going to," adds Nelson.

And that's exactly what the child did. He was playing in the back northwest bedroom, where the fire started. They say once he realized he was going to get in trouble for what he did, he ran to another room and hid under the bed. Scattered toys in the front yard - show hours of fun the 10 children had -- neighbors say they were all under the age of eight and that Christian was the baby.

"It was a big family; a lot of people live in this house. Most of them were kids run around everywhere he was real little the littlest baby, so cute and adorable. It hurts me because I used to work with kids and it's just devastating," says neighbor Amber Aguilar.

Nelson says a smoke detector is the cheapest life insurance you can buy for your family. "Can you imagine any cheaper life insurance, it could be you. Think about it. Drop what you're doing and go get one now."

Nelson also adds in all of the fire departments records -- dating back to the 70's - there has not been a fire fatality in a home that had a working smoke detector.

A fund is now in place to assist the family with funeral arrangements. You can make a donation to the Christian Degraff Memorial Fund at any Lubbock branch of Wells Fargo bank.

3/23/09
Investigators still looking for cause of fire that killed a Lubbock 3 year-old Flames broke out around 5:45 p.m. Monday at the Town and Country Mobile Home Park.  Monday night, Garrett Nelson with the Lubbock Fire Marshal's Office told NewsChannel 11 the victim is a three-year-old boy.
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