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Suspected Static Electricity Fire Severely Injures 2 Boys

June, 2005

SPOKANE - Two four-year old boys were sent to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after they were badly burned while playing in a neighbor's backyard.

Gasoline helped start the fire Saturday afternoon in north Spokane, but investigators said it's unclear how it started and how the gas got on the boys who were identified as Alexander Vensel and Brian A. Ashmore. There was no evidence that the children were playing with matches.

The boys were either on or near a plastic slide when they were burned, although there was no gas on the slide, said Spokane Fire Battalion Chief Mike Inman. A gas can was nearby from the lawn recently being mowed.

Investigators are considering the possibility that static electricity somehow started the fire.

"There isn't really anything else it could have been that we could see," Inman said. "You'd never think anything like this would happen."

Neighbors administered aid to the boys, who were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center, then airlifted to Harborview, which is a regional center for treating burn victims.

Both boys suffered burns over 50 percent of their bodies and will need skin grafts.

Police said one boy Alexander Vensel, was in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center.The other boy, Brian A. Ashmore, was listed as serious Monday morning, also at Harborview Medical Center.

Alexander Vensel is listed in critical condition and Brian Ashmore is listed in serious condition. Both young boys are being treated at Harborview Medical Center.



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