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Local News

Two-Year-Old Seriously Injured in Car Fire Sent to Burn Center

Minivan was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on scene on Santa Teresita Drive

The charred remains of a minivan after a fire Monday that seriously burned a young girl. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)
The charred remains of a minivan after a fire Monday that seriously burned a young girl. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

A 2-year-old girl who suffered serious injuries in a vehicle fire Monday has been transferred to a Southern California burn center for treatment of her injuries, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

The child, whose name was not released, had been left alone in a minivan parked on the side of road in the 1300 block of Santa Teresita Drive, said police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Her mother, who was identified Tuesday as Viviana Judith Wink, 29, of Santa Barbara, had entered a nearby home, where she worked as a caretaker, and returned to find the minivan on fire, Harwood said.

Smoke from the blaze was visible from several blocks away, according to emergency radio traffic.

Santa Barbara city firefighters responded shortly before 11 a.m. to the scene, and found the vehicle engulfed in flames, which had spread to nearby vegetation and an adjacent utility pole.

A neighbor noticed the vehicle on fire, and attempted to extinguish the flames before firefighters arrived, Harwood said.

Someone — possibly the neighbor and possibly Wink — unbuckled the toddler from her car seat and removed her from the minivan, Harwood said.

Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the blaze, and were able to quickly knock down the flames, said fire Capt. Chris Mailes.

A few minutes later, Wink and toddler exited the home, and “it was obvious the child had sustained burn injuries, presumably from the vehicle fire,” Mailes said, adding that Wink also had been burned.

An ambulance was called to the scene, and it was determined that the child suffered second- and third-degree burns to her face, Harwood said. Wink’s injury was minor.

The girl was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and later was transferred to the Grossman Burn Center in Santa Ana, Harwood said.

“At this point, there is conflicting information regarding how the injuries were sustained,” Mailes said. “The Santa Barbara Fire Department immediately requested response from a fire investigator and the Santa Barbara Police Department.”

Fire and police investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, Harwood said, although preliminary indications were that it was accidental.

He added that Wink could face criminal charges for leaving the girl alone in the car.

Harwood noted that both the California Vehicle Code and city laws prohibit leaving a child alone in a motor vehicle, and added that Penal Code sections involving child endangerment also might apply.

A decision on whether any charges would be filed had not been made as of Tuesday, Harwood said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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