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'It was really scary': Boys recall fire, explosion that burned them

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 12:34 p.m. MDT

Tyler Bergman, 10, and Kayden Godfrey, 8, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman and Godfrey are two of the five boys who were hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Tyler Bergman, 10, and Kayden Godfrey, 8, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman and Godfrey are two of the five boys who were hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

BRIGHAM CITY — It's a big word for a small boy, but Tyler Bergman talks about bacitracin like it's second nature.

The burn ointment covers the 10-year-old's face, adding a shine that coats the red burns that speckle and mar his left cheek and forehead. The ointment is also used to treat his hands — now covered in compression gloves — to "keep the scar stuff away."

Tyler was one of five Box Elder County boys involved in a burn accident Nov. 15. The schoolmates were all walking home from Three Mile Creek Elementary School when they came across some gas cans and, according to officials, began "playing with gasoline," causing a fire and explosion.

"It was really scary," Tyler said. "Everybody just started yelling and running. I ran over to Kayden's shoe, because it was on fire, and then I ran up to the UPS guy and said, 'Can you help? Everyone just got burned here.'"

Tyler Bergman, 10, and his mother, Amber Jones, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman is one of the five boys who was hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Tyler Bergman, 10, and his mother, Amber Jones, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman is one of the five boys who was hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Tyler's mother, Amber Jones, said the burns on her son's hands came from pulling his schoolmate's shoe off. Other than being there at all, she said, her son would not change what he did that day.

"He got lucky," Jones said. "He's just very tough. … He's tried really hard to conquer this thing."

At one point, Tyler's face was burned and swollen, obscuring his vision. He asked his mother if he would ever see again. Two days later, when his vision was back to normal, he asked her, 'Am I going to look like this forever?'"

"No parent should ever have to do this," Jones said. "You have to do wound care — no one should have to remove their children's flesh."

So his mother learned to treat burn wounds, and Tyler learned "not to play with fire."

Spencer Cronin, 9, said the fiery explosion sounded "like a sonic boom."

Tyler Bergman, 10, and his mother, Amber Jones, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman is one of the five boys who was hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Tyler Bergman, 10, and his mother, Amber Jones, chat after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bergman is one of the five boys who was hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

"I just jumped back because I saw the flames," he recalled, explaining that some of his schoolmates ran and others did what he did. "Stop, drop and roll. … I didn't really feel the flames, I just felt the heat."

He doesn't remember crying, but he remembers putting snow on his leg and another boy putting his whole head in the snow.

"His face was all black and so was his hair," he said, adding memories of what was going through his mind: "Some of these kids might not survive. Some of them will get badly hurt."

Spencer walked away with singed hair on his leg. Tyler and Kayden Godfrey, 8, both spent time in the hospital, as did another boy whose name has not been released. Tayton Winward, 7, is still in intensive care at the University Hospital burn center. He remains in critical condition.

"I'm always praying for him," Spencer said. "Every chance I get. And I hope everyone else does that."

Kayden Godfrey and Spencer Cronin hang out after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Godfrey and Kronin are two of the five boys who were hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Kayden Godfrey and Spencer Cronin hang out after speaking to the media at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Godfrey and Kronin are two of the five boys who were hospitalized on Nov. 15 after suffering burns while playing with gasoline. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Mardi Obray has been doing that and more. As owner of The Peak children's center, she knows Tayton, his mother and his sister, and has been working on a number of fundraisers to help his family and those of the other boys.

"(Tayton) is one of ours," she said. "That's why it's so personal to us."

They are selling poinsettias and collecting the tabs from soda cans that they turn in to donate to the Ronald McDonald House, where Tayton's family has been staying. There is a "hearts and hands" tree in the center of the lobby of the center that has ornaments representing items requested by all of the boys' families.

People take the ornaments and bring back what was requested — primarily gas cards.

"Everybody's still in treatment, except for Spencer," Obray explained.

Soda can tabs are being collected for the family of Tayton Winward at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Winward remains in the burn unit at University Hospital after getting burned in an accident in Perry on Nov. 15. Five boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and ignited them. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Soda can tabs are being collected for the family of Tayton Winward at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Winward remains in the burn unit at University Hospital after getting burned in an accident in Perry on Nov. 15. Five boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and ignited them. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Kayden will undergo a skin graft on his leg Monday.

A large fundraising event, Helping Hands Healing Hearts, has been set for Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Obray said there will be a live band, food available for purchase from a local restaurant, a silent auction and events and activities, including lessons on fire safety from firefighters.

"This has offered parents the opportunity to go more in depth in educating their child (about fire)," Obray said. "We have four families that are in need and our goal is to raise as much money as possible, because even when you raise $1,000, when you divide that by four, it's not very much. We need to really put forth a great effort to help these families."

Already, though, Obray said the communities of Brigham City and Perry have rallied around these children and their families.

"It's been hard to keep up with the people jumping on board," she said. "We cannot answer the phones fast enough, we cannot write down the donations fast enough, they are pouring in."

Soda can tabs are being collected for the family of Tayton Winward at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Winward remains in the burn unit at University Hospital after getting burned in an accident in Perry on Nov. 15. Five boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and ignited them. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Soda can tabs are being collected for the family of Tayton Winward at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Winward remains in the burn unit at University Hospital after getting burned in an accident in Perry on Nov. 15. Five boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and ignited them. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Spencer said he plans to make Rice Krispie roll-ups, his brother will make his "famous brownies" and his sister will bring scarves she's made to sell. Pitching in is one of the first things he wanted to do once he learned how injured his schoolmates were.

"I just realized how I should start helping everyone else that got burned," he said.

Spencer, Tyler and Kayden laughed and joked together Thursday and looked at some of the gifts that had been purchased for them and the other two boys. They checked out the "Tabs for Tayton" bucket which sits next to a framed picture of the young boy. They wished he could join them on Friday.

"I would be really happy if he was (there)," Kayden said. "I'd give him a kidney."

"I'd probably tell him, 'Are you OK? How are you doing?'" Spencer added.

A fundraiser for the five boys who were burned on Nov. 15 will be held at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) A fundraiser for the five boys who were burned on Nov. 15 will be held at The Peak in Perry, Box Elder County, on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were involved in a burning accident. One boy remains in the burn unit at University Hospital. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

"I hope he's feeling good," Tyler said.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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