Boy hopes campfire accident teaches others about fire safety


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fall is officially upon us, bringing with it the season of campfires. But one local eight-year-old has a message for families, after his brush with disaster.

Joe Robinson is spending one of his favorite holiday seasons in the hospital, with burns covering his face and arms.

These days he stalks the halls of Vanderbilt University Medical Center dressed in his clown costume and mask while handing out candy to nurses.

Not long ago though, his face was instead hidden behind gauze.

It all started during fall break with his family gathered around a fire.

“It’s night time and we wanted a little fire,” his mother Christen Smith said. “We have a little barrel where we burn stuff in.”

In no time, the flames were going and Smith ducked briefly inside her home while Joe and his friend set out for firewood.

But Joe soon turned back to play with the fire.

“[I] went to get a gas can, and I started pouring it, and I accidentally dropped it,” said Joe. “I was going to get it out, and it went ‘kaboom!’”

“Sam thought [Joe] went inside with me, Sam turned back around and saw him with the gas can,” recalled Smith. “I don’t know, I just used my bare hands and just kind of laid on top of him, and got his shirt off of him.”

Joe suffered burns to his arms and face and he’s now forced to spend fall break at Vanderbilt’s burn unit.

“He doesn’t have to have any skin grafts on his face,” his mother said. “But he does on his arms, he has true third degree burns on his arms.”

Joe though is taking the high road, from his first tentative steps following the fire, to patrolling the hallways for some reverse trick-or-treating.

His family now hopes this scare will serve as a lesson for fire safety education, and why eight-year-olds should steer clear of fire and gasoline.

“Don’t do that because it could hurt you like me,” Joe said.

“Educate them on what gas can do, and the fire safety,” his mother added. “I think we’re very, very lucky, because it could’ve been a lot worse.

Smith told News 2, Joe is scheduled for skin graft surgery later this week, and hopes to be released from the hospital next week.

Anyone wishing to help out the family can donate through their GoFundMe page.

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