Smoldering Fire Burns Boy On Assateague

ASSATEAGUE
– A 6-year-old boy was severely burned on his feet and ankles on Assateague
this week after he inadvertently walked through a smoldering beach bonfire
carelessly left over from the night before.

According
to Assateague Island National Seashore officials, the tragic incident occurred
on Tuesday at the northern tip of Assateague Island near the Ocean City Inlet.
The unidentified boy walked through the beach fire left over from the night
before, which had not been properly put out and was covered over with sand,
making it impossible to see.

The
six-year-old victim and his family were vacationing in Ocean City this week and
had traveled by boat to Assateague to enjoy a quiet day on the beach, according
to Assateague National Seashore officials. When the young boy walked through
the remains of the fire, he received second- and third-degree burns on his feet
and ankles and is now undergoing treatment at a burn center. According to Assateague
officials, the victim is expected to require two to three months of specialized
care during the recovery process.

“Unfortunately,
this is not a unique occurrence,” said Assateague Island National Seashore
Superintendent Trish Kicklighter. “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 completely legal,
as long as the fire is started at or below the high tide line and fully
extinguished before those enjoying them leave for the evening. Too often,
however, visitors fail to comply with the requirement to put the fire
completely out, according to Chief Ranger Ted Morlock.

“When
you cover a beach fire with sand, it will often smolder for hours and hours,
creating a significant safety hazard,” he said. “We’re hoping that some good
will come out of this regrettable incident and that visitors to Assateague will
be more conscientious about putting beach fires completely out.”

Morlock
offered a few simple safety tips for visitors when planning a fire on the
beach. First, visitors are instructed not to make the fire too large. Secondly,
Morlock suggested bringing a shovel along to carry any remaining coals from the
fire to the water, or in the alternative, bringing a bucket to carry water from
the ocean to the fire to make sure it is completely out.

“With a little more forethought and
consideration by those visitors planning a beach fire, we won’t ever have a
repeat of this sad event,” said Kicklighter 

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