RED BLUFF, Calif. - A 4-year-old boy playing with a lighter started a house fire in his Red Bluff home on Wednesday around 5 p.m. before hiding in a closet as it gradually filled with smoke.
The child was not injured but the home was destroyed.
The child's mother, Sarah Cooke, said that the outside of the home wasn't severely damaged at first glance but there was significant damage to the inside.
Cooke said she had just begun making dinner when she went to check on her 2-year-old and 4-year-old boys.
She was unable to find them until one of them ran to the top of the stairs crying.
Her other son was inside a closet that was filling with smoke.
Cooke said she grabbed both of her sons and ran to safety.
"It was really scary," she said, "but I am really thankful that they are alright and that everybody is safe. Let this be a reminder for everybody [that they] should keep lighters and anything that can start a fire out of the reach of children."
The homeowners, Cooke's parents, have fire insurance, but until the insurance repairs their home, the Red Cross is paying for them to stay in a hotel and they have been given money to buy food and other necessities.
The 4-year-old son's pre-school, Happy Trails Head Start, has also offered to start collecting donations.