SPOKANE, Wash. - Across the country, firefighters see a spike in fires started by children and teens this time of year, likely because school's out, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
Here in Spokane, firefighters respond to dozens of fires throughout the season because of kids misusing fire.
They want you to take the time now to talk to your kids about the dangers before they find themselves in a frightening situation.
According to Spokane Fire Department, the majority of fires started by children and teens do it intentionally. However, the danger comes when that small, harmless fire turns into a big problem.
You could say kids only have one care in the world this time of year. That's spending time with their friends, playing at the park and just having fun.
Spokane firefighters want to keep it this way. But they say this time of year, they see a rise in kids getting themselves into trouble starting fires.
"Sometimes it's curiosity or boredom, sometimes it's peer pressure," said Jamie McIntyre, Spokane Fire Department.
It can be hard to keep that watchful eye during summer. Many parents have to leave their kids at home to go to work. This is where temptation comes in.
"Kids may find fire starting tools, they go out to a place where they have privacy. Where their parents aren't around and they'll experiment with them," McIntyre said.
Fire experts said the common culprit for kids is your standard lighter and matches.
"Nationally, they say that fires that are started by younger kids are in a home, we see that in the bedroom a lot," McIntyre said.
This scenario just happened a few years ago in Spokane. The result was just as frightening as it looked in photographs.
"Teenagers and older kids end up being outside in different parks or public spaces, maybe in the garage or the alley," McIntyre said.
That's why it's important to talk fire safety early and often.
"Younger kids like to play with fire trucks or mimic cooking. So that's a good time to talk about - fire is hot, fire is dangerous, and it can hurt people if they touch it," McIntyre said.
The earlier you have that talk, the better. The consequences for misusing fire are serious. Kids over the age of twelve could be held financially and legally responsible for any damages from a fire they caused.
"If there's not a conversation and an intervention doesn't occur - nationally, they say it's more likely that it happens again," McIntyre said.
Have that talk now, so the only care in the world your child has this summer is when's the next time they can hang out at the park with their friends and have fun.
If you're a parent who perhaps needs help getting the ball rolling on talking to your child about fire, your Spokane Fire Department can help you. You can always call Spokane Fire at 509-625-7000. Experts can help with talking points and other advice on talking to kids of all ages about fire safety.
Again, most kids who start fires do it out of boredom. A simple solution is to keep them busy with activities when you're at work. KXLY4 News has been working to find all the local summer camps and workshops available in our community - most of which, are free.
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