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Hidden fire pit on beach burns Platteville one-year-old

Posted Thursday, August 29, 2014 --- 9:11 p.m.

What started as a trip to the beach on the Mississippi River, ended up as a trip to the Burn Unit for one Platteville family.

"Never had we ever imagined that day would turn out like that," said Jennifer Opgenorth.

The Opgenorths were playing at a sandbar when they heard their one-and-a-half year old son start screaming. Initially, the family didn't know what was wrong, and why he seemed to be in pain. As it turned out, Kegan had stepped on a hot fire pit below the surface of the sand, causing second degree burns on his foot.

"We didn't know there was a bonfire pit there. It wasn't smoking, it wasn't smoldering, it was virtually covered in sand like the rest of the beach," said Kegan's dad, Kurt Opgenorth.

As the family drove to the hospital, Kegan's foot swelled and turned white.

"Every time he would hit his foot, more skin would fall off. It was just an awful scene," Jennifer said.

The family hopes their experience will raise awareness about the importance of properly extinguishing fires.

Madison Division Fire Chief Ron Schwenn said simply putting sand or dirt over a fire won't cool it.

"Burying it won't help, all it does is heat up the ground it's on and it leads to a false sense of security," Schwenn said.

Instead, he recommends properly cooling down the coals with water, then safely moving them into a metal container and storing them away from structures and out of reach of children.


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