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Neighbors pull three children left alone from burning house; fire started by lighter

Three young girls playing with a lighter were injured in house fire Thursday night, but it could have been much worse, fire officials said.

The girls – ages 4, 6 and 7 – were home alone at their house in the 3900 block of East Countryside, southwest of Harry and Oliver, when the lighter caught the 6-year-old’s clothes on fire shortly after 7 p.m., Wichita Battalion Chief Joe Bickel said.

Two women who lived nearby heard the smoke alarms, went to the house and heard the girls yelling, Bickel said. The women couldn’t get in the front door, so they went around to the back door and got the children out, Bickel said.

“Those two ladies averted a very tragic outcome for these three children,” Bickle said. “These ladies saved them.”

The 6-year-old was taken to the hospital in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation, he said. The other two girls were taken to the hospital in serious condition with smoke inhalation.

“The first 24 hours will be very critical (for the 6-year-old),” Bickel said.

He said the children’s mother arrived at the scene as the ambulance was getting ready to take the girls to the hospital.

The fire started in the front bedroom and was contained shortly after firefighters arrived, Bickel said.

He estimated damage to the house and contents at $55,000.

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