A family in Canada is reeling and a their 2 1/2 year old son is recovering after falling into a fire pit in their backyard, more than 16 hours after the fire had been extinguished. Last month, the Cormier family was outside doing some yard work, and started a small fire pit to burn off debris. After they were done, they doused the fire with water and went inside for the night. More than 16 hours after the flames had been put out, their toddler son Tristan was playing in the backyard and fell into the pit, which unfortunately was still smoldering.
Now, they’re sharing their story in the hopes that other families know the dangers of fire pits and the importance of summer safety.
Tristan was pulled out of the pit within 30 seconds of falling in, but the embers were still hot enough to cause second- and third-degree burns on his hands and arms. Tristan’s mother, Shelley Cormier, tells Global News, “My father was holding my son frantically, and all I could see was just ashes everywhere and instantly — as a mom — just took him inside and called 911″. Tristan was rushed to the hospital via ambulance and underwent surgery; doctors performed skin grafts, using skin from his back to replace the skin lost on his left hand and arm.
Tristan spent three weeks in the hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery. Shelley and the rest of the Cormier family wanted to share their story to show parents that fire pits can pose a danger, even when you think the fire has been put out. Just because you can’t see flames, doesn’t mean the embers aren’t still burning. Explains Shelley, ”It (the fire) can burn up to 24 to 48 hours afterwards, depending on the temperature outside and the time of fire pit you’re using. It was definitely a shock to see.”
Brian Levesque, a fire prevention officer with the city of Edmonton, echoes that warning, saying most people don’t realize how long fires can stay hot. Levesque says, “If it looks like it is out but they’re not 100 per cent sure, the best thing to do is to add more water, give it a really good stir, add more water, stir it again and add more water.” He adds that there should be no smoke, hissing, popping, or steam coming from the pit.
The U.S. Fire Administration has some safety tips for families to follow, as summer gets underway and backyard grilling and fire pits become more popular. They advise that fire pits be at least three feet away from homes and anything that can burn; that children are closely monitored around fire pits; and that fires are extinguished completely before you leave the backyard.
(Image: GoFundMe / Tristan’s tragic burn)