Investigators have determined a kicked gas can and a cigarette ignited a flash fire that severely burned a 15-year-old Roy boy Thursday.
Jordan Tracy remained in critical condition at the Intermountain Burn Center at the University of Utah. The percentage of his body that suffered third-degree burns, however, was upgraded from between 70 percent and 80 percent to 54 percent, said Roy Fire Chief Jon Ritchie. Skin grafts were expected to begin next week, he said.
Although Ritchie said Tracy was still "not out of the woods," it was encouraging to hear the fire did not reach Tracy's mouth, and there was no smoke in his lungs.
Tracy and two friends, all sophomores at Roy High School, were at Tracy's house, 4133 S. 2225 West, for lunch Thursday about noon.
The trio was in the backyard where a boat, two ATVs and a shed with three five-gallon gas cans were stored just outside the door. All of the gas cans had their vents open. The three were in back smoking a cigarette.
At one point the boys were "horsing around as boys do" under an awning and one of the gas cans was kicked, Ritchie said. The fumes from the gas cans were ignited by a cigarette one of the boys was holding by his waist, Ritchie said. He did not know if Tracy was the one holding the cigarette.
The fumes ignited into a flash fire.
"It burned very fast and very hot," Ritchie said.
Tracy's pants caught fire, and the flames spread up his body. He ran for about 30 to 40 feet before his friends could catch him and have him drop to the ground to smother the fire.
After the initial flash, the fire "just took off," Ritchie said. The boat, shed and ATVs were destroyed. The north side of their house also caught fire and suffered extensive exterior damage.
Crisis counselors were sent to Roy High School Friday for students and faculty who needed to talk to them. The faculty at Roy High was briefed Friday morning before school about what had happened, said Weber District spokesman Nate Taggart. Other nearby schools also were contacted.
Ritchie said the incident was a tragic, freak accident.
"This isn't something everyone (who has gas cans stored) needs to be spooked about," he said.
However, he encouraged others to remember basic safety tips, such as not to smoke near gasoline, whether it's filling up a car at a gas station or standing in the backyard near gas cans.He also said citizens need to remember to stop, drop and roll if they catch fire.