Heater sets fire to girl's dress

By Anna Ferrick

A 5-year-old girl has been flown to Middlemore Hospital with burn injuries after the dress she was wearing went up in flames when she came too close to a nearby gas heater at the weekend.

Fire and ambulance staff were called to an address in Flaxmere to tend to the young girl who was flown to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland around 9.30pm on Saturday night.

Her father, who asked not to be named, yesterday said he didn't recognise his "baby" when he turned up to pick her up from grandma's house. "There was an ambulance outside when we pulled up. She was in the shower, what I saw was all black, I didn't even know it was my girl."

He said burns covered her body from the chest down.

She was wearing a fairy dress that was fitted in the body with a ballet-style skirt. The dress was engulfed in flames as she came too close to a heater in the lounge.

"I told her that morning not to wear the dress, I said it was too cold. But she loves to be beautiful, she likes to wear stockings and pretty dresses so I let her wear it."

The young girl's twin sister saw it happen and was now traumatised, her father said. "She feels everything her twin sister feels, she's pretty scared at the moment."

His partner accompanied the child to Auckland. The young girl had surgery yesterday morning. The rest of the family are travelling to Auckland tomorrow.

A Middlemore Hospital spokeswoman last night said the girl was in a stable condition. St John Hawke's Bay district operations manager Stephen Smith said people needed to be extra careful around heaters.

Hastings Fire Station senior officer Kerry Harford said people should employ the "metre from the heater" rule.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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