A lighter was used to ignite the child's shirt.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CAMPBELL -- The case of a 5-year-old boy with burns covering 75 percent of his body is being investigated by police and an Ohio State Fire Marshal investigator.
Apostolis Green of Robinson Road was in fair condition Monday in Akron Children's Hospital burn unit.
Chuck Hanni, a state fire marshal investigator, said the child suffered severe burns to his upper body around 4:30 p.m. May 31 at his home. Hanni said a lighter was used to ignite the boy's shirt.
The shirt will be tested at the state fire marshal's lab. Hanni said if the shirt is nylon, for example, it would burn and melt.
Hanni said the investigation continues to determine if the little boy was playing with the lighter or if someone else ignited the shirt. The investigator said he hasn't been able to interview the burn victim yet because of his condition.
Hanni said the boy was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center by his uncle. The boy was then transported by helicopter to the burn unit.
Detective Sgt. Gus Nicolaou said the mother, 26-year-old Erica Prasinos, told police she was in the bathroom when the fire started and didn't see what happened. He said she has four boys, ages 8, 6, 5 and 1.
The burn victim told a police officer at St. Elizabeth's that his 8-year-old brother set the shirt on fire but the older boy denies it, Nicolaou said.
Nicolaou said information about the 8-year-old boy has been passed on to juvenile authorities. He said the boy will likely be required to participate in Firesetter, a program that teaches children the dangers of fire.
Chief Investigator Alvin Ware, head of the Youngstown Fire Department arson bureau, said the Firesetter program, run by his department, accepts children from outside Youngstown. He said classes are usually held at the arson bureau but sometimes take place at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center.
Ware said adults who smoke need to keep lighters away from children.
Campbell Patrolman Bryan Rauzan, who interviewed the 8-year-old boy, said in his report that the child put his head down when asked if he was telling the truth about his younger brother playing with the lighter. When the mother asked, the boy said he didn't remember what happened, reports show.
Prasinos, reached Monday, said her 8-year-old son was not responsible for the fire and declined further comment.
Police collected a piece of burned carpet that had been cut from the living room floor and the lighter.
Law Director Brian J. Macala said Monday said that he would wait for investigators' reports before determining whether to refer the matter to a juvenile prosecutor. Macala called the fire unfortunate, and said it's his understanding the burn victim will be in intensive care for two more weeks.
A police report of the event was also forwarded to Mahoning County Children's Services.