BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Authorities said a 7-year-old boy left home alone was able to escape after a fire broke out at his house in Brevard County early Sunday morning.
The boy's father, Richard Hill Jr., was charged with child neglect and went before a Brevard County judge Monday -- a day after the fire destroyed his home on Denton Circle in Cocoa.
"I'll order you to abide by any restrictions set by the Department of Children and Families, if any," the judge said.
Crews were called to the house around 1 a.m. Sunday, and firefighters battled flames and heavy smoke before knocking down the fire.
"The flames, they were huge, they were completely over the roof," neighbor Elvin Wymer said.
According to Brevard County Fire Rescue, the child was home alone when a lit candle sparked the blaze.
"The child said that he woke up in the house and the house was on fire and no one else was home with him," State Fire Marshal detective Amelia Hitchcock said.
An investigator said it took authorities an hour and a half to track down the father after the 7-year-old ran to a Kangaroo gas station for help.
"I thank God he was not hurt and somebody was able to get him help. It's just heartbreaking," neighbor Michael Harp said.
Hitchcock said the father told investigators he went to IHOP and was visiting friends at the time.
According to fire officials, the home had no electricity and the only source of light was the candle.
DCF couldn't tell Eyewitness News if it had any previous contact with the family, but officials said the boy and his two siblings are with relatives.
Hill is being held on a $2,000 bond at the Brevard County Jail.