Firefighters believe child playing with lighter started residential fire

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A newborn and 10-month-old are among 10 people said to be in critical condition following an overnight house fire in north St. Louis City.

According to the St. Louis Fire Department, the fire was reported after 2 a.m. in a two-family residence in the 4600 block of Evans. Firefighters arrived at the scene within four minutes.

Investigators suspect a child playing with a cigarette lighter may have started the fire upstairs in the front part of the residence. Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said 14 people were in the house at the time. Seven or eight victims were trapped in a back-room upstairs and found unconscious.

All of the victims suffered smoke inhalation, with some reports of minor burns.

Jenkerson said the victims might have all been fine if the home had a working smoke detector, but it did not.

“Smoke detectors increase your chances of getting out of a building by 50 percent,” Jenkerson said. “The St. Louis Fire Department puts them in free any time, day or night. Every month, every week, every day, we do smoke detector blitzes. We do installs. We want everyone to have one. There shouldn’t be anybody in the city without a smoke detector.”