A TEN-YEAR-OLD boy was set on fire after being sprayed with an aerosol can in a York park.
Gabriel Wishart, of Bede Avenue, Clifton, was playing in Ashton Park when he was sprayed by a group of teenage boys who then set his clothes on fire.
The Burton Green Primary School pupil dropped to the floor and rolled in the snow to put out the flames.
North Yorkshire Police called the incident “extremely concerning” and are undertaking extra patrols in the area.
Peter Wishart, Gabriel’s father, said: “The group of teenagers were setting each other on fire.
“That’s when they came over to my son. They sprayed him on his leg and set it alight. He rolled in the snow.
“Thank God it didn’t burn him.“It could have been a lot worse – it could have caught hold of him and burnt him. It’s irresponsible behaviour with potentially dangerous consequences.
“It’s a form of intimidation. The park is there for younger children and I don’t want them to do it again. They need to know someone has taken notice.
“My wife is horrified. Anything could have happened and we would not have been there to do anything about it.”
Police will be undertaking extra patrols in Ashton Park to reassure people and crack down on antisocial behaviour, a spokesman said.
Sgt Ed Noble, of the Clifton Moor police team, said: “This is an extremely concerning incident, which we are treating very seriously.
“We are working closely with local schools to both identify those responsible and to educate pupils about the dangers of the type of behaviour and the potential consequences.
He added: “I am also asking local shopkeepers not to sell cigarette lighters and accelerants such as aerosol cans to young people.”
Gabriel had initially not told his parents about the incident, which happened at about 6pm on Tuesday, but they noticed he appeared shaken when he returned home. The matter was reported to Gabriel’s school, which alerted police, after two fellow pupils who saw what happened reported it.
Karen Tatham, head teacher of Burton Green Primary School, said the matter was reported to police yesterday. She said: “We are really pleased our safeguarding procedures in school are making sure children are safe in the community. We will be working closely with the local police.”
A fire service spokesman said: “Obviously we condemn this type of behaviour. In this instance the little boy involved was very lucky to escape without injury. We would like to remind everyone that aerosols are not toys, and that pressurised containers such as aerosol cans can explode when set on fire.”
If you know a young person who is playing with fire, visit northyorksfire.gov.uk/communitysafet/young-people/playing-with-fire