The fire that killed a 21-month-old in Oildale last week was caused by a child playing with a lighter and candle, the Kern County Fire Department announced Tuesday afternoon.
Aiden McDonald died in the June 19 fire in the 300 block of Washington Avenue. The coroner’s office reported the boy died from smoke inhalation.
Three siblings escaped the burning home. A 911 tape captured frantic efforts to attempt to get everyone to safety.
Calls had poured into the department reporting the fire and saying that a child was trapped inside. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and fire, and a fire spokesman said the home was so hot it could have exploded, but did not.
Aiden’s parents weren’t home at the time of the fire, firefighters said last week, and someone else was taking care of Aiden and the other children, ages 4, 5 and 6.
The fire department isn’t saying who started the fire, or even if it knows.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Crystal Turner, a cousin of the family, said the McDonalds already had an idea of what had happened that afternoon after talking to the three kids who made it out safely.
The fire department is still investigating whether smoke detectors were installed and working at the home, fire spokesman Corey Wilford said.
The county fire department also Tuesday afternoon stressed the importance of keeping matches and lighters away from children. The department said it offers education and prevention programs. For more information, call 391-7000 or email email@example.com.
Members of the Oildale Church of Christ have been collecting donations for the McDonald family.
"We aren't a big church but we try and help local families that are in need and are hurting after they lose everything," church member Suzanne Lange said.
So far the church has collected clothing for the family, gift cards and toys for the children. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in the parking lot of the church at 2912 N. Chester Ave., Lange and other church members will collect more items to give to the family. She also said people can call 333-7804 to donate.