Toddler Gets Third-Degree Burns From His Family's Firepit -- the Day After Parents Used It

Troy Levenhagen

A family night of fun ended in a painful injury and nearly month-long hospital stay for a toddler after the boy fell in the embers of a family bonfire the following day. The Levenhagen family of Vergas, Minnesota, held their first bonfire of the summer on May 30, and although they made sure that the flames died down before they went to bed, that didn't stop 20-month-old Troy Levenhagen from getting seriously hurt when he feel into the pit the next day.

  • According to reports, the family allowed the fire to die out on its own that night and didn't put water on it after the flames went out.

    That meant that the next day, the coals and ash were still hot when Troy reached for a stick on top of the firepit and fell in, according to KARE 11.

    "He put the left (hand) down first. That started to burn, so he put the right one down," said his father, Alex Levenhagen.

    There weren't any flames or smoke coming from the firepit, but the ash and coals were still dangerously hot.

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  • At that point, the ring around the firepit was high enough that Troy's feet came off the ground.

    So "he put all his body pressure down on his hands," Levenhagen continued. "That's why they burned so deep. He was touching at least 600 to 700 degree coals."

  • Luckily, Troy's 8-year-old sister, Tessany, pulled him from the pit before things could get any worse.

    The family rushed him to the emergency room, and medical staff there sent him to the Hennepin Healthcare Burn Unit.

    "They said right away, it's all third-degree, full thickness burns," the dad recalled. "He actually lost this pinky, all but the last bone of the ring finger, and the tip of the middle (finger) from the depth of the burns."

  • Troy needed a skin graft on both hands and will likely need more surgeries later.

    On a GoFundMe page where the family has raised more than $6,000 toward Troy's medical bills, it stated that the toddler has a "'good' hand (right) and 'bad' hand (left)." 

    "The good hand is mostly second degree burns with some third degree," the page stated. "This hand will heal well and Troy should have full dexterity. The bad hand is in rough shape. We are hopeful that with physical therapy he will be able to use this hand to good ability."

    For now, the Levenhagen family remains at the Hennepin Healthcare's Burn Unit waiting for Troy to get better enough to go home, but they're hoping the boy will be discharged by July 4.

  • Troy's father told KARE 11 that in their time at the hospital, they've come to realize that their boy's experience is common.

    "We've been here almost a month and we've had other kids come in with similar instances," Alex Levenhagen said.

    That is why he's hoping to share his story -- so that other parents won't make the same mistake that he did.

    Make sure to put fires out completely, he urged. "Don't let that coal bed sit there."