Written April 16, 2012     

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© 2016 Bob Lonsberry


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At 82 Grape Street, in the front bedroom, on the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, Bobbie Kugler started a fire.

That’s what the fire chief said.

Fourth-degree arson.

That’s when you intentionally start a fire that recklessly damages a building.

That’s what it would have been.

Except for the kids.

They were all through the house. The one in her arms, the four others she’d borne, the two who were visiting, the one she had let move in.

The firefighters got one, three more jumped out a window, but the flames took four.

That’s second-degree manslaughter.

That’s when you recklessly cause someone else to die.

That’s a lot of reckless.

The firemen had been out front for a completely unrelated don’t-cheat-on-me bonfire. Girlfriend puts boyfriend’s clothes on the curb and sets them on fire. It was a good thing she did. Because that brought two trucks, and a crew which conscientiously did a walk around. And from the backyard they saw the flames and instantly reacted.

Or they’d have all been dead. It would have been more of a death house than it was.

The policeman at the press conference wouldn’t say what she did. The fire. The recklessness. What she was doing that she started a fire that killed her children.

Was it drugs? Was it candles? Was it fondue? Was it some act of anger or spite?

What was it, other than reckless?

It kind of all hangs on that. Was she engaged in an act of stupidity or maliciousness? Is she an idiot or a killer? Could it have been what is essentially an accident, or was it a crime, beginning to end?

Recklessness is when you don’t specifically intend a bad thing to happen, but you are aware that it could happen, but don’t care, and do it anyway. Recklessness is when you don’t care about the consequences of your actions.

Which doesn’t give us a clue.

And we are left with nothing more than the sickening allegation that Rochester’s most-lethal fire in years is a case of a mother killing her kids. The charges claim that something she did on purpose started the fire that killed them. Gage was 14, Greg was 13, Kandee was 12 and Kaiden was 6.

And they were killed by an inferno that began in their mother’s bedroom.

The house is nearly rebuilt now, and kids play across the neighborhood. You can see the soccer stadium from the front yard, and life in this corner of the city goes on as it did before.

Nothing has changed.

Except what the chiefs announced.

That it wasn’t just a tragedy. It was a crime.

The crime of carelessness carried to an horrific extreme.

- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012

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