BEEKMANTOWN — Nine-year-old Seth LaBarge screamed for help when he saw his brother’s shirt catch fire.
“I was crying to death,” Seth said. “It felt like my heart was stopping.”
On June 18, Kaleb LaBarge, 8, was playing a new video game and he moved to sit on the coffee table so he could be closer to the television, said his mother, Kayla Jackson.
Flames from a tea light candle on the table behind him spread to the bottom of the back of his cotton shirt.
When Seth screamed for help, Jackson; her fiance, Jason Clark; Scott Clark; and Jackson’s cousin Bruce Eaton III came running inside from the porch.
“I was so distraught, I didn’t even think to call 911,” Jackson said.
Jackson, Jason and Scott worked together to rip off Kaleb’s shirt in an effort to get the flames away from his body.
Jackson feared that if she rolled her son on the floor to try to extinguish the flames, they would spread.
“I didn’t realize that my hands were burned at that point in time.”
Jason’s son, Josh Clark, 13, got the phone and Jason talked to the 911 dispatcher until the ambulance arrived.
Josh described the event as “the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”
CVPH EMS’s response time was excellent, Jackson said.
“The ambulance was here in a minute,” Seth said.
CVPH Advanced EMT for Critical Care Michelle Hitt said that when she and CVPH EMT Phillip Garza arrived at the Ridge Way home, Kaleb was in the driveway draped in wet towels.
Hitt and Garza used a burn kit to tend to Kaleb and Jackson on the way to the hospital.
Steve Fuller, assistant fire chief for District 3, drove the ambulance to CVPH, she said.
Kaleb was later transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt.
“He was a trooper about all of it,” Hitt said. “It was very emotional for everyone.”
Kaleb underwent a skin graft Tuesday, his mother said.
Medical personnel originally thought she and Kaleb had second-degree burns, but at the base of his back where his shirt first caught fire, Kaleb has third-degree burns, she said.
“He’s a fighter,” she said.
But he is still experiencing a lot of pain.
“As a parent you want to (stop the pain), but you can’t.”
The nursing staff at Fletcher Allen have been wonderful to her son, Jackson said.
“They genuinely care.”
On Wednesday evening, a line of firetrucks from the Beekmantown Volunteer Fire Department as well as a Clinton County Sheriff’s Department patrol car arrived at Kaleb’s house.
Dressed in uniform, Jeremy Garrant, first assistant chief for the Beekmantown Fire Department, gave Seth and Josh with certificates of heroism.
Sgt. William Dominy and Deputy Kristen Brassard from the Sheriff’s Department also gave the two boys certificates of bravery signed by Sheriff David Favro.
Lake Champlain Transportation presented Jackson with ferry tickets to help with transportation costs to and from Fletcher Allen.
“What they just did is going to bring a lot of closure to them,” Jackson said after she watched her sons receive the certificates.
“No child should have to go through that.”
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