COSTA RICA NEWS — Playing with matches was the cause of the fire that killed three young children Wednesday in Tambor de Alajuela, according to the fire marshall’s report.
The Departamento de Ingeniería del Cuerpo de Bomberos investigating the fire after the early Wednesday morning tragedy said the fire started in the small room where the family slept and the children played with matches.
Investigators ruled out an electrical short circuit or gas leak.
Fire chief, Alexánder Solís, said the children had moved from the area where the fire broke out, finding the older with his arms over his younger siblings.
Neighbours told investigators they had heard an explosion, followed by breaking glass and immediately heard the grandmother, doña Rafaela Mora, 61 years of age, screaming that the children were inside the house.
Doña Rafaela had been caring for the children for the past year after their mother left them, helping out her son while he away at work.
Relatives and family commented that the parents of the children had separated over a year ago. Yesterday, she was at the scene, but had to be taken away by ambulance, overcome by the situation.
The children were left in the care of the father, who worked as labourer, renting the small laundry room* that had been converted into a small apartment behind the main house.
As the father left for work each day, the children were left alone for almost an hour until their grandmother cane and took them to another house, where she took care of them.
Doña Rafaela said that on Sunday, her landlord told her she could not have the children there unless she paid more rent. At that, the woman opted to care for the children at her son’s small apartment.
* Typical construction for many older homes in Costa Rica are with a separate/attached laundry room, that also serves as a maid’s quarter, complete with a small bedroom and toilet.