Firefighters: Clovis Apartment Fire That Displaced 40 Caused By Child With Lighter

A blaze that caused more than $1 million in damages and displaced 40 people at a Clovis apartment complex on Tuesday was ignited by a lighter.

Firefighters say a 12-year-old boy was playing with a lighter at the Scottsman apartment complex at Willow and Gettysburg avenues when the child accidentally sparked the fire.

Firefighters -- 45 in all from Clovis and Fresno -- responded within five minutes of the 911 call. Before they knew it, the flames had jumped to a large pine tree, sending up billows of black smoke into the air.

Isaac Lee and his girlfriend, Irans, said they were watching TV when someone knocked on their front door and signaled that they needed to evacuate.

"I was shocked. I didn't hear anything, but smelled it from my bedroom right when I got out of bed and I immediately thought it was our apartment," Irans said. "It was so strong."

The building, made of heavy wood and timber, caught fire quickly, leaving tenants with little time to collect valuables from inside of their homes.

Bikes, furniture and all sorts of personal belongings are buried underneath the rubble.

"The only thing I would have is my car and the clothes I'm wearing right now. I don't really have anything else," Lee said.