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Kansas Woman Tries to Kill Bug with Lighter, Torches Apartment Instead


A Topeka, Kan., apartment building was left scorched after a woman attempted to kill a bug in her home with a cigarette lighter.

The fire broke out shortly before 4 a.m. Monday, July 24, when resident Monique Quarles said her daughter told her there was a bug in their apartment. Worried that there might be more bugs in the home, Quarles checked under the mattress where she found another one.

“I found the bug, picked the bug up and I put it in my hand and lit it on fire,” she told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

It’s unclear why Quarles tried to burn the bug rather than squish it.

“When I grabbed the [second] bug and I had it, I went to light it and then the lighter started sparking,” she added. “So, these sparks then went onto the box springs — the sparks just started flying on it and inside of it.”

She and her daughter ran to the kitchen for water to put the fire out, but by the time they returned to the room, the fire had grown. That’s when Quarles instructed her daughter get out, grab the baby and call 911. The woman also said she banged on her neighbors’ doors to make sure everyone got of the building.

The aftermath of the incident was a two-alarm blaze that resulted in more than $140,000 in damages to the Fairlawn Green Apartments, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Topeka Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Herrera said one person from the apartment complex was taken to a local hospital for smoke inhalation while one of the 30 firefighters battling the blaze was treated for heat exhaustion. Thirteen adults and six kids were also displaced as a result of the fire.

All residents made it out of the apartment safely.

The cause of the blaze has since been listed as an accident resulting from an “occupant trying to kill a bug with a lighter.”

There’s no word if Quarles will face charges.

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