OAKLAND -- An Oakland charity is collecting money to help pay for the funeral of a 7-year-old boy who suffered fatal burn injuries while playing with a lighter in his home on Friday.

Jah-Ress Combs died Saturday in the burn center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, where he had been taken after suffering third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, Oakland Fire Deputy Chief Adrian Sheppard said.

The boy was playing with a lighter in his home about 8:30 p.m. Friday when he set his clothing on fire, officials said. He was in the care of a 25-year-old aunt who was in a different part of the home in the 1900 block of 100th Avenue in East Oakland when the fire started. His mother was at a meeting not far from the home, Sheppard said.

The boy, his clothing in flames, ran through the house and outside. A neighbor across the street, Samuel Knox, said he and his wife wet a blanket and ran over, wrapping it around the boy to try to put out the flames.

Knox said the boy was crying and saying he didn't want to go to the hospital. "I've never seen anything like that before in the life," Knox said. "It was horrible."

Knox said he had spoken several times with Jah-Ress and once fixed his bike.

About 20 firefighters responded to the home, where smoke and fire had damaged two rooms, Sheppard said. A smoke detector was in the home but may have not been working properly, he said. No one else was injured.


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Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, a nonprofit organization that distributes money and supplies to those in need, often following fires, violence and accidents, is collecting money to help cover the boy's funeral expenses, a spokeswoman said.

Jah-Ress was a student at East Oakland Pride Elementary School, where he would have entered the third grade in the fall, said his mother, Patrice Cummings, 40. He was the youngest of four children.

"He liked soccer, he liked bike riding and his loved his mama to death," Cummings said.

Sheppard reminded people to check smoke detectors and also to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

"Don't leave these triggers around," Sheppard said. "Kids explore and you want to keep (those things) away from them.''

Each year, roughly 528 children ages 14 and younger die in the United States because of unintentional fire- and burn-related injuries, according to Safe Kids USA.

FUNERAL SERVICES
Funeral services for Jah-Ress Combs are set for noon Tuesday at Zion Tabernacle Baptist Church, 3945 San Juan St., Oakland
To help the family through the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, email kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com