Feb 25 vehicle fire

Courtesy City Fire

Feb 25 vehicle fire

Young Child Severely Burned in Car Fire

Left Unattended as Mother Worked Caretaker Job at Nearby Home

Originally published 6:30 p.m., February 25, 2013
Updated 10:00 a.m., February 26, 2013
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A 29-year-old Santa Barbara mother could be facing charges of child endangerment after she left her 2-year-old daughter unattended in a vehicle that caught fire Monday morning. The child suffered second- and third-degree burns to her face and and body and has been transferred to Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks for treatment. The mother sustained minor burns. Authorities are calling the fire an accident and have not released any names.

According to Capt. Chris Mailes with the Santa Barbara City Fire Department, crews responded to the 1300 block of Santa Teresita Drive at around 10:50 a.m. to find a Dodge minivan completely engulfed in flames. The fire had spread to a nearby power pole and bushes, but firefighters were able to quickly contain the blaze.

Approximately 15 minutes later, the woman and her child emerged from a house at 1301 Santa Teresita Drive. They displayed obvious injuries, Mailes said, and an ambulance was called that rushed the two to the hospital. In a prepared media statement sent shortly after the incident, Mailes wrote, “At this point, there is conflicting information regarding how the injuries were sustained.” He explained the investigation had been turned over to the police.

In a conversation with The Santa Barbara Independent Monday afternoon, police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood — noting the investigation is ongoing — said it appears the woman had left the child strapped in a car seat as she worked as a caretaker for an elderly resident in the foothill neighborhood. It’s not clear how long the girl was left unattended, but the fire was discovered only when the mother returned to the car.

Mailes said the fire started inside the van, but it’s not known what sparked it. Harwood noted there are vehicle and city codes that prohibit parents from leaving their children alone in cars, and there are separate penal codes that address child endangerment. He said no charges have been filed at this point.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

How about common sense about leaving an infant alone in a car?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 6:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken Volok loves to hear himself talk.

RealityCheck22 (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 7 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh man. I imagine this maybe happens a lot more than we think. Single mom can't afford child care, thinks it is safe in a quiet neighborhood where she can see the car from the house where she is working...doesn't think a 2-year old can get loose, and is supposed to be sleeping. Or, the baby was crying and she had to get it away from house?
Real sickening, no matter what the reasons.

eddiekd (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 7:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When is it ever "safe" or responsible to leave a two year old child alone- anywhere?! Never.

whosecityisthis2012 (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 8:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did the mother's "client" know?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why didn't the mother feel comfortable about bringing the child inside?

At lot of loose ends at this time. Perhaps this story will be updated with more information by the time the next person reads this.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 2:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The child is 4-years-old and was not left unattended in the van. This news are incorrect. In case you are wondering, my niece is going into surgery and my sister is taking care of her right along with the rest of my family.

Hopefully the news get their story correct soon.

bairessteph (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 8:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If that's true and the child was "not left unattended in the van" then I'll be interested in learning how she was burned, then. Bill is right, there are a lot of loose ends in this incident. I hope the investigation gets to the bottom of what happened.

Indy, I believe the Grossman Burn Center is in Sherman Oaks, not Thousand Oaks.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sherman Oaks is what I've always understood.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 3:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

bairessteph, is the part about the burn victims not appearing for 15 minutes. That is really odd.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 2:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Ken Volok loves to hear himself talk."
-- RealityCheck22

RealityCheck22 loves to watch himself type.

Maybe you could make a substantive contribution next time your fingertips caress the keyboard.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 2:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bunch of grumpy men making wild guesses, regardless of typing or talking. ;-) Legal or not, and ultimately safe or not, there are times when mothers weigh that against what happens when you wake a cranky, still tired four year old who fell asleep on the drive over - and you bet on the nap being better for her and everyone else if you feel safe about your vehicle location (I'd say most often it happens in a friend's driveway rather than on a street or public parking lot). Sadly, mom lost the bet here and my heart breaks for her and her daughter. I imagine I am welcoming a firestorm, and I am certainly not ruling out the possibility that this was a regular occurrence to avoid childcare expenses, but consider for a moment at least that the mother WASN'T leaving the child in the car for hours on end while she took care of other people who hate children and don't want them in their house. That makes for a great story but it's a big conclusion jump. As for the fire though - yeesh... many guesses but frightening no mattter how it happened.

SBres (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Also - bairessteph - my thoughts are also with your family. I'm glad to hear that the little girl has support around her. Thanks for confirming that she is four years old. That is also what was reported on edhat AS the incident was occurring and being investigated. Gotta love Roger the Scanner Guy!!

SBres (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 11:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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