1st grader hailed as hero after butane thrown on campfire - KMSP-TV

1st grader hailed as hero after butane thrown on campfire

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Tristan Kaiserlik, 15 Tristan Kaiserlik, 15
Jace Benson, 6 Jace Benson, 6
MORA, Minn. (KMSP) -

What was supposed to be the last campfire of the summer season turned into a tragic trip to the hospital for two boys after butane gas canisters were thrown onto a bonfire at a Mora home.

"It was like a bomb," recalled Jace Benson, the 6-year-old who is now being hailed as a hero for his quick-thinking. "It went, 'BOOM!' Like a really loud noise."

Benson told FOX 9 News he can still see the flames.

"The explosion made me fly backwards," he said.

His young face was singed when the bonfire in his family's front yard turned into a campfire catastrophe.

"I got burned…. Doctors pulled skin off," he told FOX 9.

Benson was with several other children on Friday night and they had built a crude fire in the driveway, but the tribute to summer's end took a turn when a 12-year-old who lives nearby threw a couple of loaded butane fuel canisters used for camping in with the brush.

"It was just small, kid-size fire," Ashley Trunk, the boy's mother, explained.

Though the fire had been modest, the fuel packed an incredible punch. Tristan Kaiserlik, 15, literally caught fire, according to his father. That's when 6-year-old Benson jumped in.

"Patted him -- cold grass, pulling up wet grass and putting it on him," Benson said.

Both boys were badly injured in the blast, and both were flown to HCMC in Minneapolis. The two, who are like brothers, can be seen in pictures playing video games together in the hospital.

"I'm absolutely in shock," Jeremy Kaiserlik admitted. "It sounds like Jace immediately got up and put Tristan out. It's amazing to know that a 6-year-old would have immediate reaction. I mean, he's 6 -- hard to believe."

Tristan is still in the burn unit, but Benson -- a farm boy at heart -- told FOX 9 News he learned the stop, drop and roll fire-safety technique during a program for kindergartners last year. Trunk said she's proud her son put his knowledge to such good use so quickly.

"I was trying to think if that was me instead of him, what would I do? I don't know if I would have patted someone out who was on fire with my own hands. I don't know if I would have stayed calm enough to even do it," she conceded. "I probably would faint or freak out."

Both Trunk and Kaiserlik say the boy who tossed the canisters took off running after the blast, and they've had no contact with him or his family since. As for parental supervision, both also say they were on the 10-acre property but typically trust their children with small fires since they are commonplace on the farm.

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