Tega Cay woman, son burned severely after outdoor fireplace explodes

A 13-year-old boy and his mother were burned severely at their Tega Cay home Sunday evening when a blaze in an outdoor fireplace erupted out of control, fire officials said.

Connor McKemey was in critical condition, and his mother, Karin McKemey, was in fair condition Monday at an Augusta, Ga., burn hospital, a spokeswoman said.

Karin McKemey was injured while trying to help Connor, said family friend Reid Lancaster, in a post on the Caring Bridge Web site.

George McKemey, Connor's father and Karin McKemey's husband, is on active duty in Iraq and was on a flight home for Christmas leave when the incident occurred, family friend Steve Blanchard said. Blanchard is a coach with the Fort Mill Lacrosse Club, where Connor plays midfield or "middie."

McKemey's flight arrived in Atlanta on Monday morning, Blanchard said, and instead of continuing to Charlotte, he was redirected to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga. -- where his wife and son had been taken by helicopter Sunday night.

"They're focusing on the health of their son," Lancaster said Monday. "It's pretty bad right now."

Connor suffered burns over most of his body and Karin McKemey was burned on her hands, said Chris Robertson, a driver for the Fort Mill and Tega Cay Rescue Squad, one of the first responders on the scene.

When the fire erupted at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Robertson said, family and friends were gathered on the back deck of the McKemeys' Shoreline Parkway home.

A neighbor, who is a firefighter, treated the victims before emergency medical services arrived, Tega Cay Fire Chief Scott Szysmanski said.

"Luckily, one of our firefighters was there -- pulling their clothes off and covering them with wet towels -- before the paramedics got there," Szysmanski said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.