Cabarrus County officials say they will not file any criminal charges in connection with a Jan. 19 bonfire incident that left three high school students with serious burns, although the property owner will receive a citation.
Meanwhile, friends of the victims are holding a fund raising event Wednesday afternoon and have set up a website to help collect donations to offset the cost of medical treatments for the teens.
The Cabarrus Fire Marshals Office said Wednesday that it found no indication of criminal activity at the bonfire, which was held in a field in the 3700 block of Barrier Store Road, near Mount Pleasant. However, authorities said, the property owner will be cited for alleged violations of the countys fire code.
Fire Marshal Steven Langer said the investigation determined that the impact of the flames was worsened by the explosion of an aluminum can that was in the metal container being used for the bonfire.
A group of young people, mostly students at Mount Pleasant High, gathered on the evening of Jan. 19 for the bonfire. At one point, witnesses say, a man in his 20s walked up to the container and poured diesel fuel into the flames. Witnesses say that caused a flash fire that burned the three students.
The three -- identified by friends as 16-year-old Mount Pleasant High juniors Kendall Bolton, Kris Holland, and Nathan Honeycutt -- received serious burns. They were taken initially to CMC Northeast but later transferred to the Jaycee Burn Unit in Chapel Hill. All three face lengthy recoveries, friends say.
According to Langers report, There was more than one contributing factor that led to the explosion causing the injury of the three teenagers.
The report said the man who poured the fuel into the fire did not know there was an improperly discarded 24-ounce aluminum can in the barrel. Investigators say the fuel caused the sealed aluminum can to explode. Burning and un-burning fuel was propelled into the air, hitting several people.
Members of the fire marshals office and the Cabarrus County Sheriffs Office met with families of the victims and shared results of the investigation earlier this week.
There are lives permanently changed from the events that happened that night, Langer said. Over the past 10 days, our office has worked to give the incident the due diligence that the victims and their families deserve.
Some family members of the victims had urged investigators to file criminal charges in the case.
In the meantime, friends of the three students are holding a fund raising event from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Mount Pleasant High, 700 Walker Road. The group will be selling cases of Sun Drop products for $14, with proceeds going to the victims families.
In addition, friends have set up a website, to update people on the recovery of the three students and for donations.