Child playing with cigarette lighter believed to be source of deadly Irvington fire

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 12:26 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 7:42 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In reviewing the deaths of two young children in a mobile home fire last week, investigators ruled out foul play and determined that the boys’ mother was no reckless or negligent.

Sgt. Mark Bailey said the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that 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 FOX10 News. ‘She usually keeps it in the kitchen. The 4-year-old, obviously, got ahold of the lighter, made it back to the bedroom and was playing with the lighter when he ignited the mattress.”

The fire occurred on Thursday at about 8:30 p.m., and Bailey said it did not take long for flames to engulf the room. 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 fully 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 Providence Hospital, but they died from smoke inhalation and related burns.

“We’ve obviously talked to her and several neighbors,” he said. “She’s, you know, she never does leave the kids alone. She never leaves them alone for any periods 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 ‘em to be anything other than good parents, you know what I mean?” he said.

Kendall says his Ring camera caught the fire.

“It shows that this side, it wasn’t that much smoke. But the middle started catching fire,” he said.

Added Bailey: “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 securing guns in the home.

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

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.

Kendall said people who want to help the family can drop off donations at his tattoo shop, Medusa’s Art and Soul, on McKinley Avenue.

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