Child playing with lighter sparked Staten Island blaze that hurt 20 firefighters

NEW SPRINGVILLE, Staten Island — A child playing with a lighter sparked a weekend fire that injured 20 firefighters and damaged five homes in Staten Island, FDNY fire marshals said Monday.

Fire officials said the blaze has been deemed accidental and warned parents and guardians to talk to children about the dangers of playing with fire.

The fire broke out about 7 p.m. Saturday in a two-family home along Steinway Avenue between Travis and Nome avenues. It sent up thick clouds of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

More than 250 firefighters battled the blaze, which spread to a second two-family home.

Twenty firefighters were hurt, including one who suffered a serious injury. No residents were hurt.

Fire officials say hydrants on the block were not working, making fighting the fire that much more difficult.

The fire chief said an FDNY fire marshal lived at the address where the blaze started, but he was at work at the time and his family was at the shore for the weekend.

Residents who live in the two-family homes that were destroyed could barely speak about what they lost, but others in the neighborhood described what they saw.

Oshri Reuven, whose father and mother live in the house next to the homes that caught fire, said that firefighters said "it was a matter of minutes and my parents' home would be destroyed."