Officials with the Brevard County Sherriff’s Office in Florida say a Cocoa resident left his seven-year-old son home alone and asleep in the early morning hours of June 8 to go to IHOP and visit with friends. After the man left to go out and about, his house caught on fire with the boy inside. A candle left burning inside the house on Denton Circle sparked the blaze. The allegedly neglectful dad was identified as 34-year-old Richard Hill Jr.
Fortunately, per State Fire Marshal detective Amelia Hitchcock, Hill’s seven-year-old son woke up and got himself out of the house, according to WFTV. Even though the child realized he was home alone and the house was on fire, the resourceful little guy managed to escape unassisted and unharmed. Scared and shaken though, the boy ran to a nearby gas station / convenience store for help.
It took investigators almost two hours to locate the father while firefighters fought the blaze around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning. One of Hill’s neighbors said that the fire was huge, with flames extending up and over the roof. Officials with the Fire Marshall’s Office arrested Hill and said that the home didn’t have working electricity. The burning candle was the only source of light for the home.
Bay News reported that the gas station the boy ran to for help was about a half of a mile away from the burning house. Tamiah Martin, the boy’s 13-year-old sister who was staying with her grandmother, is happy that her brother escaped unscathed. The older sister said that she and her younger brother walked together to that gas station a few times, "… and I'm pretty happy that we did because if not, he wouldn't have made it to the store by himself."
"I looked out of my window, and I saw the boy running down the street," neighbor Devon Peoples said.
"So, I walked out because when I looked out the window, I saw him and then I looked and I saw the fire."
Hill appeared in a Brevard County courtroom on Monday, the day after his house burned down. The judge charged him with child neglect. The judge also ordered that Hill would have to abide by “any restrictions” as set forth by the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
DCF told reporters that Hill’s seven-year-old son is now staying with relatives. As of yesterday, Hill was still detained at the Brevard County Jail on a $2,000 bond.