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Polk Co. teen in ‘exceptionally critical’ condition after being engulfed in flames from bonfire explosion, sheriff says

Polk County

POLK CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A 19-year old is in “exceptionally critical” condition after he poured gasoline on a bonfire in Polk City, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Three of his friends also suffered injuries from the bonfire explosion.

“What’s more wholesome than having a bonfire on a cool evening with friends?” asked the sheriff.

“It’s crazy. You would think that won’t happen here but you have to expect the unexpected,” said Sandra Ruiz, a neighbor.

Ruiz came home to find her neighborhood on Hammock Loop filled with police cruisers and emergency vehicles Thursday night.

“It’s serious. It’s sad because I’ve seen them grow up there. You see them as family,” she said.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Lane Evans, 19, had some friends over to sit around a bonfire at his house on a cool night.

When the fire died down, Evans poured gasoline on it to rebuild the fire which caused the container he was holding to explode.

“When it exploded, he immediately ended up engulfed in flames, totally engulfed in flames,” said Sheriff Judd.

Evans was rushed to Tampa General Hospital by helicopter with 80% of his body burned, according to Judd.

“If you have some pretty severe burns, you’re subject to infection and stuff like that setting in. It’s a pretty dangerous situation for anyone to be in,” said Chris Jonckheer, public information officer at Polk Fire Rescue, which responded to the incident.

Spencer Brink, 19, and Melyssa Dobbs, 18, were taken by ambulance with serious burns to Tampa General Hospital and are both stable.

Alexsis Carter, 18, suffered burns to her neck and face. She was treated and released from Lakeland Regional Health.

“It’s just a horrific, sad ending to a tragic mistake that we’re all taught when we’re very young. You never ever ever put gas on a fire,” said Sheriff Judd.

No criminal charges are expected. However, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and State Fire Marshal’s Office are still investigating.

No evidence of alcohol or drugs activity were found on the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.


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