Three Clover teens are fortunate to be alive after the flammable liquid they were using to help cut down a tree in the woods accidentally ignited, burning all three boys.
Two of the teens were burned badly enough to require hospitalization and one was taken to the burn center in Chapel Hill, N.C., after the incident in the woods near the home of one of the boys Saturday afternoon.
"It was scary," said Jennifer McDonald, mother of one of the teens who were playing outside near her Orchard Drive home. "We're just glad the boys are OK. The police have talked to them; told them they were lucky to be alive. They had some dangerous fuel."
The three teens, ages 13 and 14, were playing in the woods around 5 p.m. Saturday, trying to chop down a small tree, said Clover Police Capt. David Dover.
One of the boys poured nitro fuel, typically used in radio-controlled toy cars, from a water bottle on the tree and it was ignited with a lighter, Dover said.
"When they lit it, the vapors blew up," he said.
McDonald's son, 13-year-old Jordan Hall, was taken to Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C., with burns to his chest and face.
A second boy, 14, suffered second-degree burns to his face and was flown to the Chapel Hill burn center. His condition was unavailable Monday.
The third boy, 14, suffered minor burns to his face and was treated at the scene, according to the Clover Police report.
Police have not released the names of the 14-year-olds.
Jordan is recovering at home and said most of the pain comes from remembering the incident. He and two friends were bored and decided to chop down a tree.
"We wanted to cut trees down for the fun of it," he said.
McDonald said the hammer her son and his friends were using couldn't cut completely through the tree.
"They said they thought if they lit it on fire, it would go all the way through," McDonald said. "My son poured the fuel on the tree. One of the other boys had a lighter. I guess it blew up on them."
Jordan said this was his first and last time doing anything like that.
"All I remember is a big ol' woosh," he said. "I remember hitting myself to get the flames out."
Jordan has second-degree burns on his arms and face, his mother said. He meets with a surgeon this week.
"He's kind of upset he's going to be ugly. His face is badly burned," she said. "He thinks it's stupid, and he shouldn't have done it. They're boys ya know."
Jordan has a radio-controlled gas car that uses nitro fuel, his mother said. Somehow that fuel, Traxxas 20 percent Nitro R/C fuel, got into a water bottle the boys had outside, Dover said.
The boys had been outside only a few minutes before the incident, McDonald said. Parents were inside while the children were in the woods behind a creek near the house, Dover said.
Dover said there are lessons to be learned about the dangers of children playing with fire. "It's unfortunate that they were injured," Dover said.
The York County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating. No charges are expected, Dover said.