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Bemidji boy, 14, burned severely when ATV starts on fire

Forum News Service

BEMIDJI -- A 14-year-old Bemidji boy is in serious condition after being severely burned Wednesday when an all-terrain vehicle driven by a friend caught fire near Leonard, Minn.

According to Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson the boy, identified by his mother as Gabe Schwarzlander, was riding in the Polaris Ranger, driven by another 14-year-old. Halverson said to legally drive such a vehicle a person must be at least 15.

Halverson said there were gas cans in the back of the vehicle and that when it hit a bump gas splashed onto the engine compartment, starting a fire. Gabe Schwarzlander’s mother, Melissa Schwartzlander, said Gabe had gas on his hands when the fire broke out, causing him to become engulfed in flames.

The 14-year-old was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Bagley. From there he was taken by helicopter to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. Melissa Schwartzlander said doctors at Sanford decided her son needed to be taken to a burn unit, so he was flown to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

He was moved out of the ICU on Friday and will have surgery sometime next week, Melissa Schwartzlander said.