A Brooklyn Primary School kindergartner has undergone two surgeries over the past two weeks at the Legacy Oregon Burn Center in Portland where she is being treated for third-degree burns over her upper torso.
Flames spread over the body of Moira Reeves when the untied belt attached to a nylon dress she was wearing caught fire as she stood in front of the open door of a wood stove at her west Baker City home.
“It took seconds and it went into flames,” said Amanda Reeves, Moira’s mother.
Amanda said her oldest son, Liam, 14, was stoking the stove about 6 o’clock the night of Jan. 20 when his little sister’s dress caught fire.
Liam and his 11-year-old brother, Grayson, tried to help Moira, but they were unable to remove the burning dress. She screamed when the fire hit her skin, sending her parents into the room.
Amanda said Moira’s father, Jeromie, was able to strip the burning dress off his daughter’s body, sustaining second-degree burns to his hands in the process. Pants that Moira was wearing under the dress did not catch fire and protected the lower part of her body, her mother said.
“I will definitely be looking at the material of what my kids are wearing now,” Amanda said, noting the flammability of the dress fabric compared to that of the pants her daughter was wearing.
Moira was able to walk to the car and the couple sped to the hospital, which is just minutes away, with Amanda driving and Jeromie holding Moira on his lap.
Once they arrived at the St. Alphonsus emergency room, the medical staff focused their efforts on calming Moira, sedating her and wrapping her burns, Amanda said.
Moira was flown by LifeFlight air ambulance to the Legacy Oregon Burn Center in Portland. The Reeves family has membership in the FireMed program, which in most cases covers any additional cost of air and ground ambulance not covered by private insurance.
Moira underwent a tracheotomy on Monday through which a ventilator was installed to help her breathe. The other surgery was related to a skin graph, her mother said. Moira will be facing more of those as her treatment progresses.
Amanda’s mother has come from Texas to stay with Moira, who spent her sixth birthday on Jan. 26 under sedation in the hospital. Amanda said Jeromie, who is disabled, travels to Portland as often as possible, but is holding down the homefront with the two boys with help from his sister, Sarah Reeves.
As for Amanda, she works Tuesday through Thursday at her job as assistant manager of Community Connection of Baker County. On Thursday evenings she travels to Portland to spend the weekend with her little girl at the hospital before returning to Baker City on Monday afternoon.
Amanda says the family will continue to travel back and forth to the Portland hospital during Moira’s recovery even after she’s released from the hospital.
The family is grateful for the help provided by Amanda’s mother and Jeromie’s sister. And while they have insurance coverage and are able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House while in Portland, there is no help for the expenses associated with traveling back and forth to Portland.
Amanda says she appreciates the Family Medical Leave that allows her to take time off to spend with her daughter, but their is no pay associated with that leave. And she must continue to work to accrue her vacation and sick leave time that allows her to receive pay while she’s away from her work.
“It helps that I absolutely love my job and I know I don’t absolutely have to be here,” she said, adding that she can leave if necessary to return to Portland in case of an emergency.
Amanda says she’ll be meeting with her daughter’s teacher, Trace Richardson, and principal Phil Anderson at Brooklyn Primary to explain to them what happened to Moira so they can tell her classmates about her injuries and how she’s progressing in her recovery.
A Go Fund Me account has been established to help the family with expenses. More information is available at https://www.gofundme.com/51i3ylc