Child Burned by Beach Fire at Assateague Island - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Child Burned by Beach Fire at Assateague Island

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This photograph, provided by Assateague National Island Seashore officials, shows the second- and third-degree burns suffered by the 6-year-old victim. This photograph, provided by Assateague National Island Seashore officials, shows the second- and third-degree burns suffered by the 6-year-old victim.

BERLIN, Md.- A young boy was severely burned on his feet and ankles Tuesday when he inadvertently walked through the remains of a beach fire from the previous night at the Assateague Island National Seashore. The incident occurred on the ocean beach at the northern tip of Assateague Island near Ocean City Inlet.  

Officials said the beach fire had not been properly put out and was covered over with sand, making it impossible to see. The 6-year-old and his family were vacationing in Ocean City and had boated to Assateague with friends to spend a day at the beach.  As a result of the accident, the boy is now undergoing treatment at a burn center for second- and third-degree burns. He is expected to require two to three months of specialized care, according to officials.

"Unfortunately, this is not a unique occurrence", said Trish Kicklighter, superintendent of Assateague Island National Seashore.  "We have had several incidents over the years where visitors have been injured from beach fires that were improperly extinguished.  Our hearts go out to this little boy and his family."

Beach fires are a popular activity at the National Seashore and are legal, as long as the fire is placed at or below the high tide line and fully extinguished when done.  Too often, though, visitors fail to comply with the requirement to put the fire completely out.  "When you cover a beach fire with sand, it will often smolder for hours and hours, creating a significant safety hazard", said Chief Ranger Ted Morlock.  "We're really hoping that some good will come of this regrettable incident and that visitors to Assateague will be more conscientious about putting beach fires completely out."

When planning a beach fire at the National Seashore, Morlock offers the following suggestions: 

  • Don't make your fire too large - a little wood goes a long way. 
  • Plan so that your fire consumes all the wood before it's time to leave. 
  • Bring a shovel to carry any remaining coals from the fire to the water. 
  • Alternatively, bring along a bucket to carry water from the ocean to extinguish the fire.  Stir water into the hot coals and surrounding sand until the steaming stops.

For more information on Assateague Island National Seashore, visit www.nps.gov/asis.

 

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