Latest News

Lesslie man burned in backyard burn barrel explosion


A 19-year-old man burned in a backyard bonfire just east of Rock HillWednesday is recovering at a Georgia burn center, family members said.

Aaron Sprague was burned on the upper part of his body and is expectedto require many surgeries and weeks of hospitalization after agasoline can in his hand ignited, according to family members. Abreathing tube was taken out Friday and Sprague was eating a littlebit, said Dawn Johnson, an aunt from Rock Hill.

Many people have already made contributions to a newly createdfoundation and “Aaron’s Burn Fund” set up to help the family deal withmedical costs and travel expenses to and from the burn center.

“People have been phenomenal,” said Christina Kelley, 22, oldest ofAaron Sprague’s three siblings.

To help, donate to the Aaron M. Sprague Foundation at any FoundersFederal Credit Union branch, or online go to


A York County woman is asking for help for her 19-year-old nephew after he was severely injured in a Wednesday night bonfire, hoping to bring the man's sister to see him.

Aaron Sprague of Lesslie suffered first-, second- and third-degree burns on the upper half of his body, said his aunt, Dawn Johnson of Lesslie. He was taken to Piedmont Medical Center then was flown to to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

"It's going to take many surgeries to get the burnt skin off of him before they can do any grafting," Johnson said Thursday.

Johnson said Sprague, who is enlisted in the Navy Reserves, is close with his three sisters - Christina Kelley-Reynolds, 22, Nicole Sprague, 20, and Danielle Sprague, 17.

Christina Reynolds lives in Jackson, Tenn., and the family is struggling as they try to reunite her with her younger brother.

"She was home at Christmas and got to see him and talk to him," Johnson said. "They're all so close. We knew she'd try to come back here to see him after this."

But the family is unable to pay for Reynolds' travel, as well as the cost of commuting to and from the Georgia burn center to see Aaron.

Reynolds and her fiance have only one car between them, which they can't spare. Due to an identity theft incident, the family can't rent a car for her. And when it comes to flying, the prices are too much for them to afford right now.

"The cheapest one we found to leave from Jackson, Tennessee ... and fly to Charlotte was $847," Johnson said.

Capt. Mike Ellis with the Lesslie Fire Department said they received a call about an explosion at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. They responded along with the Riverview Fire Department, Piedmont Medical Center EMS and the York County Sheriff's Office.

The fire was in a 55-gallon drum used as a burn barrel, Ellis said. It was controlled by the time they arrived.

A garden hose was used initially to put out the fire, so firefighters didn't have to pull out any of their own equipment, Ellis said.

Ellis said Sprague had already been taken to the hospital. All they found was a jacket with several burns on it. They don't anticipate launching an investigation.

Burn barrels are not typically problems, Ellis said.

"It's typically not unsafe, as long as people are there with it and have a hose to keep it under control or distinguish if they need to nearby," he said. "But if they put an accelerant on it, that'll make it worse."

Gary Sprague, Aaron's father, said his son had been hanging out with friends in the backyard of their Springdale Road home. The fire had died down, and Aaron Sprague had added new wood to it.

But then he added gasoline. Sprague said the fire flared and caused the gasoline can in his son's hand to explode. Aaron Sprague's face and hands were exposed and took the worst burns while the rest of his burns were predominantly second-degree due to the layers of clothing he was wearing.

"He did the stop, drop and roll, but that didn't work," Sprague said. "He got into the swimming pool (in the backyard), but by then, he'd been in flames for 15 seconds."

The burns cover less than 25 percent of Aaron's body, Gary Sprague said.

Gary Sprague said he and his wife want to be with their son through his surgery, but they have to return to their jobs and plan to commute to the Georgia burn center.

"We're in the best hospital in the Southeast for this kind of treatment," he said. "It's going to be a while, but I expect in six weeks from now he'll be going home and rehabilitating."

The family is working to set up a fund to help pay for Christina Reynolds' travel costs to see her brother and perhaps to help with future expenses.