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3-year-old burned after running off Yellowstone trail, falling into thermal feature

TODAY logo TODAY 10/10/2020 Phil Helsel

A 3-year-old child was burned after falling into a thermal feature at Yellowstone National Park on Friday.

The child suffered second-degree burns and was flown to a hospital after falling about 11:40 a.m. near Midway Geyser Basin, site of the Grand Prismatic hot spring, park officials said.

"The child took off running from the trail, slipped and then fell into a small thermal feature," the National Park Service said in a statement, adding that the incident is under investigation.

The child's injuries were described as second-degree burns to the lower body and back, and the child was flown to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the park service said.

A condition was not given by the park service, and a representative from that hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

No additionals details were provided about the child, and an email to the park seeking more information was not immediately returned.

Yellowstone, which became the first national park in 1872 and covers about 3,500 square miles, mostly in Wyoming, is known for its geysers, hot springs and other thermal features.

In thermal areas, the ground is thin with scalding water just below the surface, the park says. The land near hot springs is described as a breakable crust.

Friday's incident was the second significant injury at a thermal area in Yellowstone this year, the park said. In May, a woman fell into a thermal feature at Old Faithful, the famous geyser, while backing up and taking photos.

She had illegally entered the park, which was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and suffered burns, officials said at the time.

There have been other burns in the past. In June 2016, a 23-year-old man from Portland, Oregon, died after he slipped and fell into a hot spring near Porkchop Geyser. He and his sister had left the boardwalk, the park said at the time. His sister was not injured.

In August 2000, one person died and two others were severely burned after falling into a hot spring at the Lower Geyser Basin, the park said.

Yellowstone has stressed that visitors must stay on boardwalks and trails and keep children close and from running on boardwalks.

Yellowstone in May began a phased reopening after closing in March because of the pandemic. The park was the sixth-most visited national park in 2019, with 4 million visits, according to NPS figures. Not all areas under the park service are designated as national parks.

This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

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