SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A Utah woman is recovering from 3rd degree burns, but police say her injuries could have been much worse – maybe even deadly.
On Thursday evening the woman's pants caught on fire in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at 98th South and 37th West in South Jordan. At that moment, four boys who live across the street were walking in the area.
13-year-old Luke Sumbot told ABC 4 “We saw fire on her leg and she went to the ground.” For a brief moment the sight caught Luke and his friends off guard. “I was in shock. It’s not every day you see someone on fire.” However, instead of shrinking at that moment, the 12 and 13-year-old boys jumped into action.
Matai Wilson pulled of his coat, dropped it on the woman’s burning leg and began to pat out the flames. Luke jumped in and stomped out flames, apparently from pieces of the woman’s burning pants. Then, when the fire was out, the boy’s friends called 911.
South Jordan Police tells ABC 4 News that the boys may have saved the woman’s life. They say the fire melted her pants and that she suffered “serious and significant injuries.” Police say the boys came along at the right time and did the right thing.
Matai showed ABC 4 the coat he used to put out the fire. It had burn marks, blood and even burned pieces of skin on it. They said that while they were helping the woman pieces of skin "fell off.”
Matai says he knew what to do because of what he learned in school – specifically what he learned in a science class. He says he was taught that if there was a fire to use a safety blanket and “cover the fire and pat it down.” Matai says that is exactly what he did with his coat – a coat that was a Christmas gift from his father. He thinks of it now as “kind of a trophy that saved someone’s life.”
ABC 4 asked Matai and Luke if they considered themselves heroes. They both answered no – saying they “just did what anyone would have done.”