2 children die in fire caused by cigarette lighter 1 was playing with, officials say

Two boys were killed in a mobile home fire in Irvington on Aug. 25. (SOURCE: WALA)
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 12:43 PM MDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA/Gray News) - Investigators said they have discovered the cause of a fire that broke out at a mobile home and killed two children last week in Alabama.

Sgt. Mark Bailey said the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office determined one of the victims, 4-year-old Liam Barnes, was playing with a cigarette lighter.

“The mother has confirmed that that is her cigarette lighter,” Bailey told WALA. “She usually keeps it in the kitchen. The 4-year-old obviously got a hold of the lighter, made it back to the bedroom and was playing with the lighter when he ignited the mattress.”

Bailey said it did not take long for flames to engulf the room and take over the home around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. He said Liam was inside the bedroom, and 2-year-old Noah Gordon was in a closet.

Bailey said the mother, Kali Sherman, briefly went over to a neighbor to deliver dinner. By the time she noticed the fire, it was engulfed. She managed to get Noah and her 10-month-old child, Sebastian Gordon, out of the home. While Sebastian survived, Noah and Liam did not.

Bailey said rescue workers rushed both to the hospital, but they died from smoke inhalation and related burns.

“We’ve obviously talked to her and several neighbors,” he said. “She never does leave the kids alone. She never leaves them alone for any period of time. She never leaves the house with the kids inside.”

That has been the observation of next-door neighbor Shaun Kendall, as well. Kendall, a tattoo artist who is donating part of his fees to help the family, said he has raised $340 so far.

“I’ve never known them to be anything other than good parents,” he said.

Kendall said his Ring camera captured the fire.

“It shows that this side, it wasn’t that much smoke. But the middle started catching fire,” he said. “This was a tragic, tragic – to say the least – incident. It was accidental. There was no intent and no, you know, there was just no recklessness there.”

To Bailey, the tragedy highlights the importance of making sure young children do not have access to anything dangerous. He compares it to secure guns in the home.

“Why should we not do the same for cigarette lighters, matches, and other dangerous objects that can cause damage or loss of life?” he said. “Fire safety is just as important to me as gun safety.”

Bailey also said the smoke alarms in the home were not working. He urged people to check those fire detectors periodically.

“Teach your children about fire safety,” he said. “If a fire alarm goes off, a fire breaks out, don’t hide in a safe space in the closet. Go out. Get to the outside if you can.”