Buried danger: Eugene boy burned by beach fire

What was supposed to be a fun afternoon at the beach on Sunday turned into a frightening -- and painful -- experience for a Eugene boy.

Posted: Jun 25, 2018 11:59 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- What was supposed to be a fun afternoon at the beach on Sunday turned into a frightening -- and painful -- experience for a Eugene boy.

"It felt like hot spikes coming out of the fire," said Orion Dragoo, 4, describing how it felt to step on hot coals. "I cried really bad."

Orion had just finished flying a kite at the Lincoln City kite festival when he wandered a few steps away from his mom. The next thing Alicia Gomez knew her son was screaming.

"Honestly, there were brief moments of shock, and then I knew that had to be a burn," she said.

The culprit was a beach fire that had been set earlier in the day by an unidentified couple. Alicia says when the couple left they must have covered the coals with sand. It was a poor attempt to extinguish the flames, and all it really did was hide the danger below.

It was a trap that Orion walked straight into.

"The sand was still on fire," he said.

Organizers quickly called 911 and Orion was rushed to the emergency room. Now he has second-degree burns covering the bottom of his right foot and he has to scoot across the floor just to get around.

Alicia says from now on she plans to child-proof the beach just like her home. And she has advise for anyone who's thinking about starting a fire.

"Take proper care of it, pour water over it, and leave it marked," she said. "Let it be obvious that there was a fire there."

As for little Orion, he says he's not afraid of the beach. But he sure hasn't forgotten what happened.

"I thought I was going to get on fire," he said.

Experts say you should always use water to put out beach fires, never sand. They say buried coals can remain hot for up to 24 hours.

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