Angela Trickler started the first day of spring vacation by putting on a long holiday dress and playing “Cinderella” with her older sister.
But before the morning of April 3 was over, Angela apparently had played a much more dangerous game, accidentally igniting the green- and red-flowered black dress.
The 7-year-old remained in critical condition Monday in Seattle with burns over almost 70 percent of her body.
“I don’t know exactly what she was doing,” said Sonja Trickler, Angela’s mother. “I was in the house, and I heard somebody screaming. There she was, lying on the ground, screaming and panicking with flames all over. I just happened to have a blanket near. I threw it on top of her.”
Angela’s family poured pitchers of cold water on her until Spokane firefighters arrived at 3817 E. Fourth about 11:45 a.m.
Firefighters found matches and candles near where Angela had been playing in the back yard, although she doesn’t have a history of playing with fire.
“It looked like she was playing ‘birthday,”’ Spokane Fire Marshal Garry Miller said. “There were candles and matches, cans of pop and crackers.”
Angela was taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart Medical Center. Sonja Trickler piled her other daughters, Shana, 11, and Kelsey, 1, into her car and followed. When Angela was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, her mother accompanied her.
The blond-haired child with hazel eyes suffered burns on her torso and upper legs. She also was burned slightly on her face and throat, but she still has most of her hair.
Gauze is wrapped over all her body except her head.
“It’s probably going to be a long haul,” Sonja Trickler said Monday. “She can hear voices. She tries to open her eyes. They have her on a lot of medication because of the pain.” Angela probably will stay at Harborview for another three months before being transferred to a children’s hospital, her mother said.
Trickler has spent the past week shuttling between Seattle and Spokane. She is staying in a burn-unit apartment in Seattle, but she could be forced out at any time if a more serious burn victim is brought to the hospital. She’s at even greater risk of losing the apartment if she’s gone for more than two days at a time.
Meanwhile, Shana and Kelsey are staying with their grandmother in Spokane.
“But they need me here, too,” Trickler said as she prepared to leave Spokane to drive to Seattle on Monday night.
Trickler described Angela as an active child who likes to go Rollerblading and had planned to run Bloomsday.
“She participated in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ play at school,” her mother said. “She was one of the flowers.”
Crisis counselors went to Sheridan Elementary School to talk to Angela’s first-grade classmates Monday on their first day back from spring break.
Some of the students didn’t even know about the accident. The Fire Department didn’t release Angela’s name to the public.
The 25 schoolchildren spent the morning making Angela a tape of spring and Easter songs. Teachers also read stories and poems on the tape. And students wrote Angela personal cards.
Her sister Shana’s sixth-grade class made huge “Get well” posters for Angela’s hospital walls.
“We all care a lot about her,” Principal Brian Melody said. “We told her that on the tape. We’re thinking about her, and we care about her.”
Sonja Trickler took the children’s gifts to Angela on Monday night.
A trust fund has been set up at all branches of Washington Mutual Savings Bank in Angela Trickler’s name.
“There’s some insurance,” said Bonnie Robinson, Angela’s grandmother. “But I’m sure there’ll be a lot of added expenses.”
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