PERRY, Box Elder County — Five boys were hospitalized Thursday after suffering burns while playing with gasoline.
Perry Mayor Jerry Nelson said two of the boys who were initially listed in critical condition had been upgraded to serious condition by 8 p.m. Thursday. Two others were being held for observation, and one boy had been released.
"It's going to be a long, hard recovery for two of these boys," Nelson said.
The boys were walking home from school when they found gas cans and were "involved in a burning accident" next to a home in the "middle of town," Nelson said. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion.
The boys, between the ages of 7 and 10, were injured about 3 p.m.
"I'm still looking at gas cans, grass that was burned and tennis shoes laying on the ground," said Jim Buchanan, Brigham City's director of emergency services.
Cody Neilson said he was inside his home when he heard a "big bang."
"I looked out there, and kids were running around and everything," Neilson said. He went outside and saw a fire in a neighbor's yard.
"I grabbed the hose and put that out while the next-door neighbors were tending to the kids," he said. "A couple of them got burned pretty bad."
Damage to the house on South Linda Way, where four gas cans and a small black patch could be seen, was minor. But the neighborhood was shaken by the incident.
"It was shocking, of course. I mean you don't really expect five kids … to be burned," said Skyler Limb. "I was sitting inside watching TV when I heard all the sirens and stuff.”
Limb said he ran from his house nearby to help bandage the kids. He said he knew all of the kids and was too upset to discuss their injuries.
The victims, whose names were not released, were taken to Brigham City Hospital. Four of the boys were then transferred by medical helicopters to University Hospital in Salt Lake City. Two were in critical condition in the burn unit Thursday night and the other two were being treated in the emergency room.
Nelson said the accident has been difficult for him because he personally knows some of the boys and their families.
"Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with the parents," the mayor said. "This is one of those things that we grow up with, and it's just really sad and hard."
Brinley Hyde, 10, and Kourtney Small, 9, are friends with one of the boys, who is believed to have inhaled the fumes.
"He was so young and so I don't think he knew that this was dangerous. I hope that they're OK," Brinley said.
"I'm sad for them," added Kourtney. "I just hope that their families are feeling that people are caring for them."
Contributing: Andrew Wittenberg and Peter Samore