Boy, 7, was set on fire in 'prank gone tragically wrong'

Eyewitnesses said they saw Preston Flores and other children take a petrol can from the back of a council van

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The Independent Online

A seven-year-old boy who is in a critical condition in hospital after being “set on fire” is thought to have been involved in a game that went “tragically wrong”.

Preston Flores suffered serious burns in the incident on Bedford Avenue, Aberdeen, at about 2pm on Friday.

He is believed to be the victim of a “a prank going tragically wrong” after he and a friend took a petrol can from the back of a council van and planned to light a fire, The Press and Journal reported.

Police Scotland confirmed that petrol was involved in the incident but said there is no evidence so far of any deliberate act.

Horrified eyewitnesses told of seeing the little boy engulfed in flames. A relative told the Daily Record that Preston and his friends had been “mucking about”.

She said: “They were just mucking about. His mates were chucking petrol on him. They had lighters and were sparking them.

“Next thing I know he’s running down the street screaming.

“I’ve never seen anything so horrible. The flames were covering his whole body.

“His clothes were half burned off him and half sticking to him. I was in floods of tears.”

A neighbour said she saw three boys and a girl jump onto the back of a council vehicle as she watched from her window.

“They were searching for something. I saw one with a container like a watering can,” she said.

“A few moments later the boys ran off, then I saw a boy with fire on him. There were kids with him, trying to put him on the ground.”

Preston was transferred from the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh overnight on Friday.

Chief inspector Nick Topping, the local Police Scotland area commander, said Saturday: “We are grateful for the continued assistance we have received from the local community to help us piece together the events leading up to this incident. We have spoken to a number of residents about what they saw or heard which has been very helpful and important to our inquiry.

“I can confirm that the young boy who was injured is seven-year-old Preston Flores. We can advise that he was transferred last night from Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital to the ITU unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

”We understand he is still in a critical condition.

“Our investigation into this tragic incident will continue today and I would reiterate that so far there has been no evidence of any deliberate act.”

He appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to contact police on 101.

Additional reporting by Press Association