Fire department: Kid playing with lighter caused deadly blaze

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A house fire that killed a toddler was caused by a child playing with a lighter and candles, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Information on the cause of the fire was released Tuesday. Late last week, the coroner's office said 21-month-old Aiden McDonald died of smoke inhalation.

The Kern County Sheriff's Office also investigated the circumstances surrounding the fire, said department spokesman Ray Pruitt.

"We don't believe there's any indication of child endangerment in this case. We believe it's a tragic accident," said Pruitt.

No criminal charges will be sought against the toddler's parents or caretakers.

This is not the first time something like this happened. On May 25, 2012, two cousins, 3-year-old Yanira Camacho and America Tejada, died in a trailer fire in the 12200 block of Atlantic Street in Edison. Arson investigators determined the fire was set by other children playing with matches. Just as in the Oildale case, no criminal charges were filed, and it was deemed an accident.

The recent fire erupted June 19 on the 300 block of Washington Avenue in Oildale. A fire department spokesman told Eyewitness News last week that the fire started in the room where the toddler's body was found.

Fire officials said they got several reports about the fire, and crews found heavy smoke and fire coming from the front and east side of the house. Firefighters immediately started to battle the flames and to look for the child reported to be trapped inside.

Three other children - ages 6, 5 and 3 - escaped the fire. An aunt and the mother of the children were home when the fire started, according to family members. Firefighters said they suspect the house didn't have working smoke detectors, but investigators haven't confirmed that with Eyewitness News.

Neighbors and relatives said they got the three kids outside, but the mother kept going back in to find Aiden. She kept that up until the firefighters arrived.

"By the time they got there and told us all to get back and let them do their job, we had to drag their mother out of there, 'cause she wasn't going to go," said Tanya Dotson, who lives across the street and is a cousin to the family.

"We did everything in our power as a family, neighbors, people we don't even know, trying to run up in this house to save that kid," Dotson said Thursday. "We would have saved him, but we didn't know where he was."