Friends and family remember 7-year-old Kaisen Dam who died Saturday. (Garna Mejia, KSL-TV)
SALT LAKE CITY — Members of a Salt Lake community are rallying around the family of a boy who was killed while playing with matches this past weekend.
Friends and neighbors put up blue balloons in the Poplar Grove area in memory of 7-year-old Kaisen Dam, who died Saturday.
Salt Lake City police said Dam and a friend were playing with matches in an alleyway near Gillespie Avenue and Navajo Street.
At some point, neighbors think Dam ran back home, brought out some gas and accidentally lit himself on fire.
Neighbor Jenny Sika said she thinks Dam must have spilled some of the gas onto his clothes, which caused the flames to quickly overcome his small frame.
7yo Keisen Dam left a mark in the ❤️ of his community. Neighbors in Poplar Grove area near Gillespie & Navajo have his name in front of school. His family has a growing memorial w/ flowers & cards in living room from people stopping by to pay their respects. Story @KSL5TV 10pm https://t.co/cdAByu0vl2pic.twitter.com/zn2OBMFAfQ
— Garna Mejia KSL (@GarnaMejiaKSL) August 12, 2021
“It caught onto his clothes real quickly,” she said.
Firefighters said Dam suffered second-degree burns to 90% of his body.
Friends say Dam’s friend ran out of the alley yelling for help and caught the attention of some good Samaritans who were about to get into a car.
“They saw him waving them down,” Sika said. “He’s like, ‘Fire!’ Unbeknownst to them, they came trying to kill the fire not realizing there was Kaisen, and they saw Kaisen and actually caught him, and I heard they tackled him down, rolled him down because he was running hysterically.”
Dam’s young friends said he taught them to love being outside and he’d walk down the street, knocking on everyone’s doors to round up all the children to play.
“See, these are some of the boys that always used to come over with Kaisen too,” Sika said. “They come by all the time now just to drive past his house just to see if it’s real.”
Dam’s friends lined the street in blue on Wednesday to honor their friend.
“We put balloons everywhere,” said Anthony Castro, one of Kaisen’s friends.
Castro said they even have something at his school.
“If you go to Edison (Elementary), you can see all — it is spelled Kaisen.”
On any other night, they would all be outside playing. For some reason on Saturday, most of the neighborhood children weren’t home, and it ended up being only Dam and another friend.
“No one was here at that time, and all my friends tell me they wish they were here to stop what happened,” Castro said.
Since Sunday, neighbors like Sika have been stopping by Dam’s house to check on his family.
In his living room, his favorite toys are lined up in front of a growing memorial.
“They just wanted to make sure that his family was aware how important he was to us,” Sika said.
Dam’s family wasn’t ready to speak on-camera but expressed their deep gratitude for all of the support, flowers and well wishes they’ve received from neighbors.
Dam’s funeral is scheduled for 9:30-11:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kearns and members of the public are welcome to attend.