Firefighters respond to two blazes, one in Atwater, one in Merced

Girl suffers severe burns in accident

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comDecember 24, 2012 

— Cal Fire firefighters responded to two incidents within minutes of each other Monday morning, including one where an 8-year-old girl was seriously burned.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection responded to a home on Gleneagle Street in Atwater at 10:10 a.m. for a report of a girl who'd been injured in a fire.

The girl's family members reported to firefighters that they'd been putting lice medication in her hair. A candle was burning in the room, and the medication was flammable, according to Battalion Chief Gabriel Santos.

The vapors from the medication met the candle flame, causing a flash fire. The medication on the girl's body caught on fire, burning her, Santos said.

The girl's father placed her in the bath tub and family members called 911. Firefighters arrived at the scene, and the girl was flown to a Fresno area burn unit. Santos said the girl suffered second and third degree burns over 50 percent of her body, including her upper torso, face and back.

Santos said the girl is expected to survive, but will require extensive treatment. The fire, which was out when firefighters arrived at the scene, caused minor damage to a room inside the home. The girl's father received minor burns, but he refused medical treatment.

Shortly before the Gleneagle Street incident, another fire was reported in Merced on Beachwood Road near Pinedale Avenue. Firefighters responded and found smoke coming from the single family residence's attic.

Because of the age of the home, firefighters had to remove a section of ceiling to gain access to the fire in the attic. The fire was contained quickly and no injuries were reported.

The fire caused about $7,000 damage to the structure, displacing two women and two boys, ages 14 and 9 months. Red Cross responded to the scene to help the family secure temporary housing.

Twelve firefighters, a water tender, three engines and a battalion chief responded to the Beachwood fire.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or

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