Heartbroken Mother-of-Three Left Homeless after 7-Year-Old Son Played with Her Lighter

Odette Odendaal
Feb 28, 2019
01:57 P.M.
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A mother was horrified as she watched her life go up in smoke after her son played with her lighter.


24-year-old Charlotte Hawksworth was busy bathing her newborn Riley when her five-year-old son, Tyler came running into the bathroom with tears streaming over words of apology.

Charlotte rushed passed her son into the living room sheer terror took over her body for a second. The room was filled with smoke, and the sofa was on fire. Tyler played with the lighter and accidentally set one of the cushions alight.

He found the lighter where Charlotte had hidden it after she began smoking again and set one of the cushions on fire and soon, so was the whole flat.

Baby tries to light black lighter.| Photo: Shutterstock.

Baby tries to light black lighter.| Photo: Shutterstock.


From Hounslow, Charlotte


after the incident:

"I just told the kids to get out. I knocked on doors on the way down, but no one answered. I was petrified, and the adrenaline took over. I wrapped the baby in a blanket and told the kids to run. I panicked and didn't shut any doors behind me. I could have saved more.”

All Charlotte and the kid’s belongings are destroyed and the walls black with smoke from the fire. For now, Charlotte commandeered her father’s sofa along with her kids, Riley, Tyler and four months old, and only daughter Nylah.


The mother of three had no home insurance and wanted to speak out in warning to other mothers. It only takes a split second for something to have devastating consequences.

The fire which started in the living room destroyed everything within its walls when Charlotte had just recently spent about $6630 on renovations.

Fireman spraying water in a smouldering burnt out house.| Photo: Shutterstock.

Fireman spraying water in a smouldering burnt out house.| Photo: Shutterstock.


After quitting smoking when Charlotte was pregnant with Nylah, she started up the habit again after her birth in January this year. The lighter got stashed high on top of the fridge in the kitchen, often where toys are temporarily kept after being taken when the kids misbehaved.

Once everyone was safely outside, mum Charlotte dialed 999. Firefighters were quick to arrive, but the blaze had already severely damaged the flat.

Fires are often one of those things easily underestimated, and that can cost lives, thankfully in Charlotte’s case the damage was monetary, but it only took seconds. Makere Tawa and her partner, Adrian Tioriori can attest to that.

According to the Greerton Fire Brigade station officer Steve Wright, a child caused a blaze that destroyed an entire house after he played with a lighter in one of the bedrooms.

The fire that started in an Otumoetai Rd house in Tauranga took five firetrucks and 12 firefighters almost an hour to put out.

Firefighters putting out a house fire.| Photo: Shutterstock.

Firefighters putting out a house fire.| Photo: Shutterstock.

After the fire, a dazed Makere


she had been in the house just before the fire started. She quickly went to the shed where she and her husband lives to get something. When she returned moments later she saw the smoke billowing out of the windows and



"I don't know what happened. It just happened so fast. We walked outside and, next minute, it's smoking. We tried to put the fire out, but we couldn't get back in the house. I have never seen anything go up that fast. By the time we had evacuated all the kids, the windows were already popping, and the flames were coming out the top of the roof."

All the children were safe, but the house got destroyed along with everything in it. Sadly, when a fire ripped through the home of a Youngstown, Ohio family last December, they were not so lucky.

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