Toddler and father critically injured in house fire

Toddler and father critically injured in house fire

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A flash fire in a Colorado Springs home sent 3 people to the hospital. It happened around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon in the 3000 block of Greenwood Circle.

A two and a half year old male toddler was flown to Denver Children's Hospital in critical condition. The child's father was taken to  the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, and is also in critical condition. 

Another man was also in the garage at the time of the flash fire.  He is being treated for minor injuries and is expected to be okay.

Colorado Springs Fire Department said it believes the cause of the fire was a pilot light on a propane space heater that ignited fumes from fuel.  The fuel is said to have come from a vehicle in the garage the men were working on at the time.

Professor Ted Lindeman, chemistry professor at Colorado College, said fumes of this nature create a flammable cloud near the ground.  The invisible cloud can spread very quickly, adding to the danger of the situation.

"The thing about gases is as soon as the liquid fuel has turned into gas, now it's molecules are flying around at, literally, about 1.5 times the speed of sound," said Lindeman.

Lindeman said when confined in a closed space, like a garage, it would not take more than a spark to ignite the fumes.  He said flipping a light switch or unwrapping a roll of scotch tape could produce enough of a spark to ignite the fumes.

He also explained there are many other flammable items in many garages that can fuel the fire once ignited.  He cited examples like paint, gas and cleaners.

Lindeman said the situation would have been less dangerous if the car work would have been conducted outdoors.

"The gasoline fumes would have been immediately down wind.  Even a half mile-per-hour breeze would have been enough to make it totally safe outdoors," he said.

The family is displaced from the home.  The car is a total loss. The garage is severely damaged and there is some damage to the house.  Firefighters expect to be there a few more hours.

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