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Child in critical condition after using gas can as fire aid

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Posted at 8:22 PM, Mar 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-29 23:18:02-04

LAYTON, Utah – A young boy was taken to a hospital by medical helicopter Saturday to be treated for critical burns he sustained to the face, neck and chest after he used gasoline to either ignite or accelerate a fire.

Battalion Chief Mike Adams, Layton City Fire Department, said the incident occurred in the area near 1200 North Church St. in Layton around 11 a.m. Saturday.

FOX 13 News’ Todd Tanner reports the 10-year-old boy’s parents said the family had gotten together to make s'mores Friday night in some kind of fire pit or fire can.

The parents said the young child was alone in the backyard Saturday morning and wanted to restart the fire. There was a gas can in the yard used for the lawnmower that was not locked up. The boy’s father, Richard Gittins, said rain from the previous night meant the wood was wet, and he thinks that’s why his son tried to use gasoline.

"I was right there, that's how fast it happened," he said.

It was not immediately clear whether the child used the gasoline to start the fire or if he added gasoline once it had already been ignited.

When the gasoline ignited, the boy’s clothes also caught fire. He suffered burns to his face, neck and chest--all told the burns covered about 20 percent of his body.

"To see my son on fire was unexplainable, you know," Gittins said. "That's a feeling I don't ever wanna feel again. You don't think it can happen to you, but it can."

The boy stopped, dropped and rolled--just as he'd learned in school.

Officials transported the child to University Hospital in Salt Lake City in critical condition. As of Saturday evening, the boy was alert and awake. Officials expect him to recover.

Gittins said he hopes other parents will learn from this incident and take care to stow gasoline in a safe, secure location.

"And it all could have been prevented by a bicycle lock," he said.