Officials: Kids were playing with matches

Children playing with matches appears to be the cause of a Monday afternoon garage fire that displaced a family of five in southeast Columbus.

Damages to the structure at 242 Pence St., pictured above, and its contents, including a car and motorcycle, are estimated at $50,000, according to the Columbus Fire Department.

The family — Jeff and Brenda Finley, her son William Hendershot, and the Finleys’ two grandchildren, Alison and Angel Hendershot — received shelter services from the American Red Cross.

However, most of the fire was kept to the garage area, with the home’s interior sustaining only minor smoke damage, the release stated.

A witness told police she saw two children playing in the area of the garage, where bails of straw were stored, the release stated.

After the children were found, they admitted using matches near the straw, the release stated. However, police concluded the cause of the fire was accidental and there was no criminal intent, the release stated.

It was undetermined if smoke alarms were operational at the rental property owned by Shirleen Shaw, the release stated.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.