Nacogdoches Co. woman suffers serious burns while starting fire

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - An elderly Nacogdoches County woman is in very critical condition at the UTMB Burn Center in Galveston after catching on fire and being unable to escape the flames.

Wednesday afternoon, Curlie Sparks, 77, was carrying coals from an inside woodburning stove, using a newspaper, to the front yard. While she was wheeling down the ramp in her wheelchair, the coals flared up and quickly caught her clothing on fire.

The shoes Sparks was wearing give a good indication of how badly she was burned. Her daughter, Floria, says her mother suffered burns to more than 40 percent of her body. Her chance of survival is even worse.

The motorized wheelchair is charred. A firefighter used a garden hose to cool the first, second and third degree burns on her body while they waited for an ambulance.

Sparks suffers from dementia. According to her family, she has a tendency to build fires outside her home.

Floria Sparks said she had been arguing with her mother to not build any fires on a windy day. The elderly woman tried anyway.

"She started this fire and I don't know why nobody didn't hear her, bad as she was burned," said her son, Donnison Sparks. "Somebody should of heard something or noticed something, watched her or something. Just unheard. No one heard her the way those shoes are burnt."

Sparks' daughter says it happened in a matter of minutes.

She heard her mother yelling that she was on fire.

Sparks has 16 children, 8 boys and 8 girls, and many grandchildren.

She and her husband live in the Swift Hill community.

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