According to investigators, a 20 year-old man was killed and a 17 year old teenage girl injured when a fire that the two started quickly grew out of control. The pair was situated around a fire pit burning brush when the male, 20 year old Daniel Hewey, attempted to ignite the burning embers in the pit to keep the fire going. When Hewey threw gasoline on the fire from an open bucket, the embers ignited the flammable vapors of the gasoline, causing a fiery explosion that would take Hewey’s life and send his 17 year old friend to the hospital. Hewey died from smoke inhalation and severe burns – his teenage friend, who is expected to survive, suffered mostly burns to her face and moderate smoke inhalation.
This incident occurred on the evening of February 16th, 2013 at about 10:20 pm in Webster N.H. and has been ruled an accident by investigators.
The Serious Risks of Fire
In addition to burning property, fires can also cause serious burn injuries to those who get caught too close to a fire’s flames and inhalation related injuries to those who breathe in the smoke. Burns to the body can cause permanent scarring, disfigurement, and chronic pain – while inhalation can result in suffocation and internal burns. Both burns and inhalation, if serious enough, can result in death.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of fire is how quickly it can spread. No fire should be initiated without having an ample amount of water nearby to extinguish wayward embers and without having a way to call emergency responders should the fire grow out of control.
Furthermore, gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be thrown onto an open fire, even if the fire has been reduced to embers. If it is unknown whether or not a liquid is flammable, it should be assumed that it is and the liquid should be kept away from open flames.
Responding to a Fire Out of Hand
Even with several buckets of water next to an open fire, there is no way to ensure that a fire does not spread and grow out of hand. The best way to prevent a fire from growing out of hand is by refraining from ever starting a fire. If a fire has already been started under controlled conditions, it should be closely monitored to ensure it does not spread beyond any fixed boundaries. If it appears as if the fire is too big to control or that the fire is beginning to spread beyond its fixed boundaries, emergency responders should be called right away.
Failing to control or extinguish a fire that ends up causing injury to another person can leave those who start fires in serious legal trouble. The best way to stay out of such situations is to avoid starting fires in the first place, no matter what local ordinances allow.
Do Not Use Gasoline to Start or Restart a Fire
What happened to Daniel Hewey, however tragic, should serve young adults and their parents as a reminder that gasoline and flammable liquids should never be used to start or restart a fire. Kids will always do things they are not supposed to and accidents do happen. Parents can educate their children by practicing safe gasoline handling and use as well as making sure their children are well informed of misuse dangers. It is very unfortunate that another life has to be lost in order for more attention to be brought to gasoline dangers around open fires.
Injured people who suspect a defective gas can was the cause of their injuries should contact a burn injury lawyer to hold manufacturers responsible.