Hidden fire-pit burns Platteville toddler - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hidden fire-pit burns Platteville toddler

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After their 1-year-old son sustained significant burns on his foot, a Plattville couple is asking rivergoers to be more diligent in extinguishing fires. Kurt and Jennifer Opgenorth and friends were enjoying a sandbar island North of Cassville, Wisconsin, on August 24th, when they heard their 1-year-old Keegan scream.

"I just heard a scream that neither one of us had heard a scream like that before," said Kurt Opgenorth.

"The scream that he screamed from the shore to the dock and to the other side of the river is something that I'll never forget," said Jennifer.

Their son, Keegan, had fallen in the sand. When the couple ran to him, they couldn't figure out what had happened - if he was stung by a bee or if he was hurt.

"Did he get sand in his eyes? There was no swelling, nothing at all," said Kurt.

The couple tried to distract their son with a boat ride, but the little boy was just not having it.

"He was inconsolable. He was screaming and straightening his whole body up. We couldn't even hold him," said Kurt.

Keegan kept grabbing his left foot. The couple realized their son had stepped in a sand-covered fire pit.

"His toes on his foot started to turn white and having been a registered nurse for 13 years, I knew it was an early sign of a burn," said Kurt.

"(Our friends) dumped three buckets of water on that spot and it steamed and boiled," said Kurt.

Kurt and Jennifer said the family had been playing near and around that spot for nearly 3 hours with no sign of the hot ashes underneath.

"It could have happened to any of us," said Jennifer.

The family rushed Keegan to Platteville's Southwest Health Center emergency room where he was quickly diagnosed with second-degree burns on his foot and leg. The family was then advised to take Keegan immediately to the University of Wisconsin Health American Family Children's Hospital's burn unit in Madison, where he spent the night. Keegan is currently undergoing treatments and his family said he's on track to make a full recovery. The family hopes sharing their store will help others be more diligent in extinguishing fires.

"Extinguish the fire and don't cover it up. Leave it open, put water on it. Our hope is that this doesn't happen to anyone else," said Kurt Opgenorth.

Joe Willkinson with the Iowa DNR said the DNR recommends all fires be put out with water. He also recommends fire sites to not be left unattended, even if you believe the fire is out. He said the ashes from the fire can still be extremely hot.

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