ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – An 11-year-old St. Petersburg girl is recovering from second-degree burns after fire investigators believe she possibly participated in a dangerous social media challenge.
“They are calling it the ‘Fire Challenge.’ That’s where individuals pour a flammable liquid – possibly rubbing alcohol – on their skin or body and then they ignite it and part of the challenge is it is supposed to be recorded,” said Lt. Steve Lawrence, Deputy Fire Marshal with the St. Petersburg Fire Department.
According to Lt. Lawrence, the fire that injured Gianne Gilpin began in the back of a home along 36th Street South. It quickly spread and the home is now a total loss.
“People started calling saying ‘your house is on fire, your house is on fire,'” the victim’s mother, Trecia Haughton, said.
Haughton says she was down the street from the home when the fire started. She tells 8 On Your Side, she isn’t sure if her daughter was, in fact, participating in the fire challenge but believes her child got a hold of tea light candles.
“She brought it to her room, she lit it. And the alcohol, she poured the alcohol on it and it just went out of control. Things happen. She is a child,” said Haughton.
Gilpin declined to do an interview with 8 On Your Side.
“One of the officers, pulled me aside and was like ‘is there a way I can open her phone?’ I said ‘no what is the problem?’ She told me she wanted to see if there was a challenge. She said ‘there is a challenge going around with rubbing alcohol'” said Haughton.
Haughton says she was unable to get into her daughter’s phone to see if there was a video recording of what may have happened. Haughton claims an officer questioned Gilpin if she was aware of the challenge but her reply was ‘no.’
Haughton explains she is just thankful her child is alive.
“It could have been worse. She has second-degree burns on her stomach, under her left breast, her thighs and her hands,” she said.
Once Gilpin is released from the hospital, her mother and two other siblings will have nowhere to go and won’t have any possessions to their name.
“I can always get that stuff back but waking up every day knowing that my child is here with me, that is all that matters to me,” said Haughton.
The family is now asking the community to help them rise from the ashes following their own personal tragedy. To help the family with donations please email Haughton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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