Glendale Heights fire officials emphasize safety after fire pit explosion injures 12

GLENDALE HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- It only takes seconds for backyard fun to turn tragic.

Glendale Heights fire officials put on a fire safety demonstration in the wake of a backyard fire pit explosion and fire over the weekend. Officials now say that the incident was caused by someone pouring gasoline on the fire.

Officials now say that 12 people were injured, five of them critically. Initially officials said eight had been burned and one girl was in critical condition.

At least one of the victims has life-threatening burns, officials said. Several others walked into emergency rooms seeking treatment.

Firefighter and paramedic Mike Guevara was one of the first responders to arrive on scene.

"There was a multitude of patients ranging from first degree to most-severe second and third degrees from the torso up," Guevara said.

Dressed in full bunker gear, a firefighter with the Glenside Fire Protection District poured gasoline on a small fire pit fire to demonstrate just how dangerous adding anything flammable to a backyard fire can be. The fire quickly engulfed several of the t-shirt wearing cardboard mannequins that represent people sitting on folding chairs.

Fire officials say more than 5,000 people in the United States are injured every year in grill fires and backyard recreational fires.

They say fire pits should be 25 feet away from any house or structure, charcoal grills 10 feet away, and propane grills should also be away from the house.

"Just this week we had a propane grill that caught on fire and melted the siding of a house. That was just this week," said GFPD Chief Russ Wood.

Wood also suggests you have a garden hose, bucket of sand or dirt, or a fire extinguisher nearby whenever you are lighting a fire pit or grill.

Officials said their hope is to educate people about fire safety while keeping them safe as we move into the summer season.
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