Over $40K Raised For Casper Teens Injured in Flash Fire
Multiple teenagers were injured in a structure fire that occurred in Casper on Friday, March 4. Their injuries were so severe that three of the teens had to be transported to out-of-state children's hospitals.
According to the Natrona County Fire District, while Firefighters were working on the huge apartment complex fire in Mills on Friday night, crews were notified of a second structure fire on Lakeview Lane, near Zero Road.
A press release from the Fire District stated that they were called to the second fire, but that the fire itself was already out. They were told that there were multiple juvenile burn victims involved in the incident.
Though the Natrona County Fire District did not release the names of the juveniles, it was subsequently revealed that the victims were Natrona County High School students Kayden Pharr, Jayce Berry, and Haley Acuna. A fourth juvenile was present at the incident but was uninjured, according to reports.
"When NCFD fire crews arrived on the scene at Lakeview Lane, they investigated the scene," the press release stated. "The fire occurred in a detached shop near the main residential structure, the fire was contained to the building of origin and minor overhaul was performed."
The release noted that Natrona County Fire Marshal Matt Gacke investigated the fire and determined that the cause of the fire was accidental. It was "due to a flammable liquid being too close to an open flame inside of an enclosed structure."
Fire Marshal Gacke discovered that the fumes from the flammable liquid ignited from the open flame and caused a sudden "flash" fire inside of the shop.
K2 Radio News spoke with the mother of one of the victims, who described the events that led to an explosion and a flash fire.
"The kids were putting a fire in a potbelly stove and one of the kids was using an accelerant that caused the flash fire," said Katina Golumb, mother of Kayden Pharr. "I think they were cold and were going to light a fire and they just used too much [accelerant], not knowing what could happen."
Golumb said that, as she understands it, the container holding the accelerant exploded which caused a flash fire.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, they learned that the juveniles had already been transported to the Wyoming Medical Center via a personal vehicle.
"Health officials at Banner Health (WMC) determined the burn injuries sustained from this fire were significant enough to fly the victims to regional burn centers in Greeley, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah," the NCFD press release stated.
Pharr was transferred to the Denver Children's Hospital, according to his mother.
"They took the breathing tube out of him today," she stated. "We're at the Denver Children's Hospital, which is a studying hospital so there's a team of 20-plus people that are working on him every day. He was able to remove the breathing tube today, but he still has the feeding tube in, and they did have him stand up for the first time since Friday. So he's made leaps and bounds today."
Various GoFundMe's have been started for the three teenagers, and collectively they have raised over $41,000.
A woman named Melanee Ramirez has organized the GoFundMe for Jayce Berry. It was created two days ago and has already raised $19,332 out of a $25,000 goal.
"On the night of March 4th, Jayce Berry was involved in a devastating accident that resulted in severe burns- the most serious being on his right hand, and both legs," the GoFundMe stated. "He was taken to Wyoming Medical Center, and then airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO. He is currently undergoing agonizing treatment, as the doctors need to perform wound scrubs & change his bandages frequently. He is a tough kid, and is going to be OK! He will have a long road ahead of him as he heals. As of right now, it is unknown how long he will be in Denver, or if he will need skin grafting in his future."
The GoFundMe noted that Berry just recently turned 17 years old.
"He is such a bright, energetic, and kind young man who puts a smile on everyone’s face," the GoFundMe stated. "Please pray for him, his friends involved, and his family! His parents are some of the most kind people I know, and my heart breaks that they are going through this."
Kayden's mom stated that it was Kayden's teacher and coach, Kurt Patik, that organized the GoFundMe for her boy.
"Kayden just found out about the GoFundMe and he was pretty emotional because he and Coach Patik are pretty close," she stated.
The GoFundMe for Kayden was created three days ago and has raised $14,895 of a $25,000 goal.
In the description, Coach Patik wrote that Kayden is a junior at NCHS and is a three-sport athlete.
"Unfortunately, on March 4th, Kayden and 3 friends where involved in an accident that left him with severe burns on various parts of his body, the worst being his left hand and face," the description wrote. "He was taken to the hospital in Casper and was intubated and later flown to Denver Children's hospital for further care. His vitals are all strong and his lungs did not obtain any damage. He will be receiving skin grafts for the necessary areas. It is yet to be determined how long he will be in Denver, but he is a tough kid that will fight hard to recover and get back to training for the upcoming football season."
Coach Patik noted that the GoFundMe will go towards "lessening the family's burden with all of the unforeseen expenses that will arise."
The third GoFundMe, for Haley Acuna, was created yesterday by a woman named Gail Garcia, and it has raised $7,435 of a $20,000 goal.
The description states that Haley is a sophomore at NCHS and plays softball.
All three children are currently on the mend, but it was noted that it's going to be a long road ahead.
"You never expect to get that phone call in the middle of the night," Kayden's mom said. "And then you have to go to the ER; it's a parent's worst nightmare."
Luckily, these three kiddos' parents are not in this alone. They have the support of an entire community - these GoFundMe's prove it. And if there's one thing that Casper proves, time and time again, it's that we take care of our own. These teens, these families, are not on their own. They have an entire town behind them.