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Published June 22, 2005

Mom, girl burned in attempt to kill lice
Police: Flammable liquid ignited in 4-year-old's hair

By Tracy Burton
Lansing State Journal

A Lansing mother's attempt to rid her 4-year-old daughter of head lice caused a fire that left them both in critical condition, authorities said Tuesday.

The 44-year-old woman was apparently treating the girl with a homemade concoction containing a flammable liquid when the flash fire erupted Monday night, police said. Authorities wouldn't identify the liquid, and they don't know exactly how the fire ignited.

Both were in critical condition Tuesday with severe burns. Their names were not released.

The two ran from the home at 4309 Balmoral Drive about 9:30 p.m., screaming for help, police Sgt. Linda Doherty-Wright said.

A neighbor called 911 while they waited in their driveway for help. Another child was in the home but was not hurt. The incident remains under investigation.

"It appears at this time it's an accidental fire, but due to the condition of both victims, we're unable to get a statement," Doherty-Wright said.

The girl suffered burns to 60 percent of her body, and the woman suffered burns to 16 percent of her body, she said. They both were airlifted to University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, where they remained Tuesday.

Firefighters put out the fire within a minute of arriving, officials said. The home sustained minimal damage.

Even treating lice properly can be dangerous, said Amy Kirkconnell, a pharmacist at Lansing Community Pharmacy.

"Years and years ago people used things like gasoline, but now you should stay away from home treatments," she said.


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