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Officials: 5-year-old girl hurt in Milwaukee house fire may have been playing with lighter

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A tragic turn to a family’s Fourth of July celebrations when a north side Milwaukee home catches fire.

“I just heard them holler fire and we all came outside,” a neighbor who lives near Sheridan and 41st Street, where the fire started, said.

Firefighters were called to the house around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Inside, they rescued a five-year-old girl unconscious in an upstairs closet. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

“It’s my understanding that the child’s condition improved to completely pulseless and not breathing to breathing and somewhat conscious,” Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski, said.

The little girl’s dad tried to put out the fire with the fire hose and received minor burns to his arms.

Milwaukee Police say one of their officers was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation. After investigating, fire crews now believe the little girl may have been playing with fire, most likely a lighter.

“It does look as if perhaps it was unattended use of smoking materials by a child,” Deputy Chief Lipski said.

A neighbor who did not want to be identified said she saw people outside of the home shooting off fireworks before the fire started

“It’s sad,” she said. “They shouldn’t be playing with lighters, fireworks. That shouldn’t happen.”

Damage to the house is estimated to be about $20,000. 

The Milwaukee Fire Department says they responded to more calls this Fourth of July than years past. Station Two alone responded to 51 calls.

The Red Cross says they responded to four different calls all within a few hours, assisting eight people.

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