Boy becomes burn victim from careless coal disposal

Boy becomes burn victim from careless coal disposal

On a family outing Friday to Emigrant Lake, Martha Angulo warned her two boys — ages 4 and 6 — to step carefully as they waded in the shallows near the picnic area.

She worried they could step on something slippery or sharp beneath the water's surface and come to harm.

But 6-year-old Anthony stepped into trouble as he scampered to the car to get a toy. He stepped on hot coals from a barbecue dumped along a walkway at the edge of the parking lot.

"He just started screaming," Angulo said.

She thought he likely had stepped on a bee and been stung, but when she scooped him into her arms, she could see an open wound on the bottom of his foot. Even then, she initially suspected he might have stepped on broken glass.

Upon closer inspection, though, her husband, Ramon, found charcoal briquets, dusted with ash so as to be almost invisible on the ground, but still red hot within.

The family rushed Anthony to Ashland Community Hospital, where his feet — both dotted with first- and second-degree burns — were cleaned and bandaged.

"Now we just hope to avoid infection," Angulo said.

Doctors told Angulo that Anthony will have to stay off his feet for two weeks — a big chunk of summer for a little boy. He's nestled on the couch, unable to run with his little brother, 4-year-old Alexander, who is known as Diggy, or ride his bike with his dad. He hopes to be back on his feet in time for a football camp next month.

"It's summer and families are out," Angulo said. "We just all need to be aware and be responsible."

Firefighters at Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and Ashland Fire Department said problems with improper disposal of hot ashes are rare at Emigrant Lake, but the potential problem is always present.

"A lot of fires are caused by improper disposal of ashes," Ashland Fire Department Capt. Bob Cockell said.

Whether people are dumping ashes from wood stoves, barbecue grills or other fires, they should always make sure the ashes are cold to the touch, he said.

Let wood or charcoal fires consume all combustible fuel and burn completely out. Smother the fire in some portable grills by closing lids and vents so no air can get in, then check the temperature of the ash before dumping it or loading the grill into a vehicle.

Cockell said both those methods take time and people who don't want to wait should pour water on the fire remains and stir it to make sure every part is doused and cold.

"As fire season progresses, it's really important to follow all the rules for outdoor cooking in all our parks," he said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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