Hospital upgrades condition of man, son burned in fire

A Providence man and his 5-year-old son were upgraded to serious condition Tuesday following a fire that authorities said was started when the child was playing with matches.

Christopher Husband suffered extensive burns while trying to save his little boy, Christopher Etienne, when fire broke out in their Virginia Avenue home at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Husband is in Rhode Island Hospital, and Etienne was being treated at Hasbro Children's Hospital.

"With the (bedroom) door being shut, and newer construction and everything, the fire stayed contained to that particular area, so there was a bit of a delay (in the father responding to the bedroom), and once the father gained entry, he was exposed to the fire inside of the room, and through his heroic efforts, he pulled his son out of there," said Capt. Frank Silva of the Providence Fire Department.

Fire officials said the boy was burned over 85 percent of his body.

Providence Deputy Fire Chief James Mirza said the cause is known to have been a pack of matches and that it's time to start the conversation about what local parents can do to prevent a similar, potentially deadly situation.

"Well, they should be put away safely, away from the children, so they don't have access to it, and store it in a safe place. It sounds basic, but some people still forget, and it can still be a problem," Mirza said.

Mirza said in case of fire, it's crucial to have the right tools in place to protect your family.

"Smoke detectors are important. One of the issues we're having is the maintenance of the smoke detectors. We've done a good job of installing smoke detectors, but we do see a lot that are not properly maintained, either that or they're disconnected, or the batteries have expired or the batteries are missing," Mirza said.

A neighbor said she will never forget the sight of young Christopher Etienne sitting on the front doorsteps, in shock, so badly burned that he could not cry, or even be picked up to be comforted.