LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – An 8-year-old child is fighting for his life after a small bonfire in Lafayette turned explosive over the holiday weekend.
Investigators said it happened around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday at a home in the 1800 block of N. 15th Street.
Tiea Lee described the incident as something out of a movie. She lives across the street and heard the explosion from inside of her home. When she looked outside, she saw the child running in his front lawn with his entire body on fire.
“I thought it was a car accident and when I opened the door, I just see this little kid. He was just engulfed in flames. It was like a big fire ball, just running from the side of the house,” said Lee.
Investigators with the Lafayette Police Department said the child was holding a stick over the fire. Another kid found a gas can, brought it to the fire and poured it on the stick. That’s when the explosion happened.
The boy’s mother had put out the fire with water and he sat on the porch with other neighbors.
“My neighbor, Miss Michele, she was just, she was the one who was really trying to keep him alert and focused on something other than what was going on,” said Lee.
Michele Nicholson was the one who sat with the child. She could tell the boy was in shock, but tried to keep him calm.
“He turned to his left and he said, ‘How’s my hair? Do I still have my hair,’” said Nicholson. “I couldn’t tell him what it was really like. So I said, ‘Yeah, it looks better than mine.’”
While the boy suffered severe burn injuries, what remained of his clothes were smoldering and had to be put out with a fire extinguisher by his neighbor.
The boy is at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Police said the boy is in critical condition.