An enormous blaze that started in a home under construction and destroyed or damaged several other homes was started by children playing with matches.

The fire, that caused about $900,000 in damage, started at 11:30 a.m. on July 9 in the 0-100 block of Auburn Glen Garden S.E.

The Calgary Police Arson Unit and Calgary Fire Department Investigations Unit ruled out arson as the cause of the fire and determined that it was started accidentally by children playing with matches.

In their investigation, they found that the fire developed very quickly due to the exposed wood construction and the initial house was fully engulfed in fire in a matter of minutes.

The two children aged eight and three were able to escape unharmed.

One of the neighbours, David Drutu said that it had been a quiet Saturday morning until his little brother ran in saying there was a fire next door.

He says the flames began in the roof on the home that was still under construction and with high winds; it didn't take long to spread to other buildings. "I was only on the phone for five seconds, and it had already started up to the roof. The windows were breaking, everything was on fire."

In the new construction area, not all the fire hydrants were turned on, so that made a big problem for firefighters.

Lines had to be stretched from a block away to bring water to the fire scene.

They also had to do something about the gas lines, because they couldn't turn off each individual home.

Chief Ernie Molineaux said that crews had to leave exposed lines burning to prevent gas from leaking. "They are fairly safe. We have ATCO on scene to shut down the whole loop, the whole street to make repairs."

Drutu said that he didn't know his next door neighbours, but felt sorry for them. "They are brand new houses this year. I'm really sorry for them."

The public is asked to be aware of the factors that influence fire-setting behaviour among children and adolescents, including:

  • Easy access to ignition materials
  • Lack of adequate supervision
  • A failure to practice fire safety
  • Easy access to information on the Internet

Parents are reminded that children playing with matches or lighters are one of the leading causes of home fires and they can often be hurt in these incidents.

Children have a natural curiosity about fire and are tempted to play with matches or lighters if they are left in easy reach.

Parents should ensure these objects are kept away from children and explain to them that they are tools, not toys.

Keeping your home fire safe by maintaining smoke alarms and practicing an escape plan is also paramount.

To learn more about responsible citizenship through fire safety, please visit Think Responsibly at