Boy in Coraopolis explosion looked like 'skin was melting off,' father says

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A 12-year-old boy remains in critical condition today after a gas can exploded as he and other boys tried to light a bonfire outside a Coraopolis home Monday afternoon.

Payton Brown suffered second- and third-degree burns to his arms, chest and stomach and smoke damage to this lungs, his father Earl Brown said this morning.

Doctors put the boy in a medically induced coma Monday at UPMC Mercy.

Mr. Brown said he was inside his home when he heard the explosion outside his home near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Main Street about 2:30 or 3 p.m.

Mr. Brown said four boys were trying to build a bonfire when one of them placed a flammable liquid -- possibly gasoline -- into a canister and pour it onto a small fire.

Neighbors said they heard an explosion and some houses shook.

"It sounded like a car bomb went off, that's how loud it was," Mr. Brown said.

After the explosion, Mr. Brown said he heard screaming.

His son was on fire and was running around when the other children pushed him to the ground in attempt to put out the flames, Mr. Brown said.

"His skin was melting off," Mr. Brown said.

Fire officials said two other boys were singed and taken to the hospital and the fourth was uninjured. All were neighborhood kids who often visited the Brown home.

Mr. Brown said doctors expect to keep Payton in a medically-induced coma for the next three days.

"The doctor said for a kid his age, he should make it," Mr. Brown said.

The Corapolis fire chief did not immediately return a phone message this morning.

mobilehome - breaking - neigh_west

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede.


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