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Two children burned by exploding canister

November 30, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A 4-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl were injured Wednesday afternoon after one of them tossed an aerosol can into a trash fire behind a business in the 2100 block of Williamsport Pike and caused an explosion about 2:15 p.m., officials said.

The youngsters were not immediately identified by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, but Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster said both were taken to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The extent of their burn injuries was not immediately available, but Lemaster said one of the children was flown from City Hospital in Martinsburg to Washington, D.C., and the other was taken by ambulance.

Emergency dispatchers initially were notified of a building fire and "reported explosion" at 2:15 p.m., officials said.

At the scene, firefighters discovered that a faulty chimney in a one-floor commercial building heated by a wood stove allowed flames to damage a small portion of the attic and fill it with smoke, officials said.

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The trash fire near the building was intentionally started by the father of the children, who told investigators he left them unattended "for about a minute" when the aerosol can was tossed into the flames.

Lemaster said the girl admitted throwing the can into the fire.

Though no charges have been filed, the Sheriff's Department, and assistant State Fire Marshal Ed Robinson, are investigating the incident, Lemaster said.

Joining responders from Bedington Volunteer Fire Department and the Sheriff's Department were personnel from the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department, the Berkeley County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Ambulance Authority.

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