OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — An Okeechobee High School senior has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering from severe burns she suffered in a house fire.
His family’s home, his mother said, is now unlivable and they are looking for a new place to live.
They live in a short-term rental until then.
On October 21, Arriana Cruz was at home with her 13-year-old sister, Jalissa.
“I was making lunch for her and me,” Arriana said. She had just learned to make empanadas and was heating oil in a pan.
She said she walked away for a while, “Maybe like 5, 6 minutes,” Arriana explained.
She came back to find flames.
“The pot was just on fire until the microwave and [Jalissa] told me the kitchen was on fire.
Arriana tried to grab the pan and pull it off the heat, splashing and spilling oil on her hand, arm and foot, causing third-degree burns.
She dragged her sister out of the house to call for help, but their Labrador, Moose, was still inside the smoke-filled house.
“We had cleaned the floor, so we put it in the crate, and I had to come back and get it,” Arriana said. “He was scared, really scared.”
Arriana was airlifted to a burn treatment center in Orlando and, while hospitalized for a week, underwent a skin graft and is on a strict recovery diet.
Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin said grease fires are the most common fires.
“Don’t leave him unattended. Make sure you keep it under supervision and have a fire extinguisher nearby,” Franklin said.
He also said they are the most common for causing injury.
“Just keep it where it is. Cover it, turn off the heat source, put a lid on it. Don’t try to move it,” Franklin said.
As Arriana was taken to hospital, her mother called her sister, Arriana’s aunt Natalie Howell.
“[She said] It was all gone, we lost everything, and she was crying hysterically. And I was just like what can I do? Howell said.
She started a Fundraising who has already raised over $10,000, but that’s just the beginning of what might be needed to replace almost everything he owns and find a new home.
“I’d rather not go home because it’s a lot to deal with,” Arriana said.
This all happens at a time when Howell fears Arriana is enjoying her final months in high school, but likely won’t be back until next year.
“I feel bad for her because she’s missing a lot of the fun stuff that she can’t get back,” Howell said.
“I feel blessed that everyone was fine. We will get through this with all the support we have,” Arriana said.
. high school student from Okeechobee badly burned in the fire dune house