UPDATE: Child suffers severe burn from fire explosion - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Burned child transferred to Augusta burn center identified

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UPDATE: The 9-year-old boy who was seriously burned Tuesday night in Chattanooga has been identified as Stalyn R. Mayorga.  Mayorga was transferred to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, GA.

According to the Chattanooga Fire Department's Bruce Garner, fire investigators are still trying to determine exactly what happened when the boy was burned shortly before 6:00 p.m. Tuesday at the home on 5th Avenue.

"It was horrible. It was absolutely horrible," says Stephanie Merritt.

Merritt was inside her 5th Avenue home with her boyfriend Sunday night when suddenly she heard a loud boom.

"We heard a big explosion noise, like 'woosh' noise. And we came to the front door and opened it."

Just across the street she saw her 9-year-old neighbor running around the yard with his shoes and pants on fire. Merritt and her boyfriend immediately ran to help.

"And I was just like, 'Make him drop and roll! Make him drop roll!' And I'm just screaming, 'Drop and roll! Make him drop and roll!'"

Fire investigators say a relative of the boy was burning trash in the front yard when the boy got a hold of a gas can.     

"He must have picked up the gas jug or a funnel or something that set it off," says Merritt.

The explosion was so powerful, it knocked the mailbox to the ground.

"We're not exactly sure yet, exactly what happened with him and a gas can," says Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Bruce Garner with the Chattanooga Fire Department says the sad situation serves as a stark reminder.

"Gasoline is highly flammable and explosive and it just can't be controlled," he says.

It is so explosive, firefighters never use it.     

"You should never, ever use gasoline around fire. Period. Firefighters don't use gasoline to start training fires because it's so dangerous."   

Merritt knows all too well the pain the young boy is feeling. She was injured in a grease fire.

"I was about three or four years old and I got second and third degree burns on 90 percent of my body."

With second and third degree burns on 50 percent of the young boy's body, she and others are praying for his recovery.

"I pray for that family and I hope they get all the help they can," says Merritt.

"He's going to have a long, hard recovery on this," says Garner.

This week also happens to be National Burn Awareness Week. Some important safety tips related to gasoline:

  • Keep gasoline out of children's sight and reach. Children should never handle gasoline.
  • If fire does start while handling gasoline, do not attempt to extinguish the fire or stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately, and call for help.
  • Do not use or store gasoline near possible ignition sources (i.e., electrical devices, oil- or gas-fired appliances, or any other device that contains a pilot flame or a spark).
  • Store gasoline outside the home (i.e., in a garage or lawn shed) in a tightly closed metal or plastic container approved by an independent testing laboratory or the local or state fire authorities. Never store gasoline in glass containers or non-reusable plastic containers (i.e., milk jugs).
  • Store only enough gasoline necessary to power equipment and let machinery cool before refueling it.
  • Never use gasoline inside the home or as a cleaning agent.
  • Clean up spills promptly and discard clean-up materials properly.
  • Do not smoke when handling gasoline.
  • Never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
  • Use caution when fueling automobiles. Do not get in and out of the automobile when fueling. Although rare, an electrical charge on your body could spark a fire, especially during the dry winter months.
  • Only fill portable gasoline containers outdoors. Place the container on the ground before filling and never fill containers inside a vehicle or in the bed of a pick-up truck.
  • Follow all manufacturers' instructions when using electronic devices (those with batteries or connected to an electrical outlet) near gasoline.

PREVIOUS STORY: A nine-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after being severely burned by a fire. 

It happened just before 6:00 p.m. in the front yard of a home on  5th Avenue.

A Chattanooga Fire official reports that an adult relative was burning trash.  Somehow the boy got a can of gas and what happened next remains under investigation. 

A witness tells our crew on the scene the child was pouring gasoline on the fire when it exploded. 

The boy was taken to Children's Hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to approximately 50 percent of his body, all from the waist down. 

An update on his condition is not yet available. 

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