Toddler stable after fire incident
A toddler was seriously injured last night after accidentally setting himself on fire at his home in Ballymena.
Neighbours believe the boy might have been handling an aerosol close to a lighted candle.
It is understood he ran outside with his clothes blazing and was helped by passers by.
Carol Moody, whose chip shop is close to the toddler's house, provided buckets of water to help extinguish the flames.
"There was a man driving up and he saw a wee boy, alone, running on fire," she said. "There was another woman who had been walking up and who tried to put the flames out. There were other people about too who helped. I brought out buckets of water and bags to wrap him in, but they were okay. We were told that the burns were superficial and that they were not around his face. I hope that is the case.
"It is terrible. We hope that he is going to be okay."
The boy, whose age has not been confirmed but is believed to be aged three or four, is in a serious but stable condition in Antrim Area Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Northern Trust said he would be transferred to the Royal Victoria children's hospital in Belfast later tonight.
It is understood most of his injuries are on his upper body.
John McPoland, a spokesman for Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, confirmed that crews were called to the Larne Road area of Ballymena.
He said: "We got the call at about 2.30pm of an infant running about with his clothes on fire. An ambulance crew were there within five minutes and with the assistance of the PSNI have taken the boy to hospital for treatment to severe burns."
Sid McKeown from Ballee Community Association said locals were stunned by the news.
"The whole community is shocked," he said. "We are all thinking and praying for the wee boy and for his parents. You know how sore it can be when you even get a burn on your finger so, who knows what he is going through."
North Antrim TUV MLA Jim Allister, whose constituency office is close to Larne Road, said: "It is hard to imagine anything more horrific. Our immediate thoughts are with the child and his family."
DUP MLA Paul Frew expressed shock and said the community would pray the toddler made a full recovery.
In a statement the PSNI said they were investigating the circumstances of the fire and have called for any witnesses to come forward.
A police spokesman said: "A young boy has sustained serious injuries and has been conveyed to hospital for treatment. Police are appealing for anyone who may have been in the area around this time who may be able to assist us with our inquiries."