At Least 30 Injured When Homecoming Bonfire Goes Horribly Wrong

A high school homecoming bonfire exploded Friday in Shawano County, Wisconsin, leaving dozens of people injured, some even in critical condition.

The Shawano County Sherriff’s Office reported that 17 people were taken to hospitals. Seven were injured severely enough that they had to be transported to the Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Burn Center in Milwaukee, WLUK-TV reported.

Police said about 30 to 40 people were injured by the explosion and fire, WTMJ-TV reported.

There were both current and former students from Pulaski County Community School District at the bonfire, which was held at a property in the town of Maple Grove, a WBAY report noted.

Investigators were told the explosion happened after someone threw a 55-gallon drum of diesel and gasoline onto the fire, WBAY reported.

One witness told the news outlet that when the drum hit the fire, it began spewing flames and made a mushroom cloud. The witness said that people were rolling on the ground, trying to put out the fire on themselves after the explosion.

The incident is under investigation, Lt. Chris Madle from the Shawano Sheriff’s Office said, according to WTMJ.

“Our priority is to figure out what happened with this tragic event, why this fire obviously got out of hand,” he told the news outlet. “There’s kids that are pretty critically injured from this instance.”

The Shawano Sheriff’s Office was not made aware of the situation until early Saturday, after injured individuals began going to local hospitals.

Madle told WBAY that no one called 911 after the explosion, possibly due to concerns about getting in trouble for underage drinking.

“We don’t know exactly why, but everyone self-transported to the hospital,” he told the TV station. “At least Green Bay was smart enough to give us a call and say, ‘Hey, you might want to look into this.’ So, that’s how we got involved.”

Since then, the sheriff’s office has assigned multiple deputies to look into the events to find out how the explosion happened, WBAY reported.

“We just want to figure out what happened. We want closure just like the Pulaski community does, so we’re not concerned about giving underage drinking tickets, we’re not concerned about that, we’re concerned about finding out what happened,” Madle added later when speaking to WBAY.

A statement from sheriff’s office Chief Deputy George Lenzner said, “The sheriff’s office is attempting to, and wants to gather as much information as possible regarding this case, which includes statements and possible videos to show what happened at this tragic event,” according to WBAY.

Meanwhile, some of the individuals are still in serious or critical condition after the fire, WLUK reported.

One teen, Brandon Brzeczkowski, was still in critical condition on Monday and may require multiple skin grafts on his face and legs, his family told the news outlet.

At least two others are still in serious condition as well, WLUK reported.

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Many others were treated and released from hospitals.

Meanwhile, Madle said that investigators do not believe there was any criminal intent behind the explosion, but there could be other charges related to the event.

“There are statutes about mishandling of burning materials, reckless endangering safety. I don’t want to go to conclusions about what will happen, but based on statements, it could point that direction one day,” Madle said, WBAY reported.

“Everyone has been very cooperative. I know this weekend we had some parents that brought their kids in that were involved. So the homeowner, to my knowledge, I don’t know that name of the homeowner, but he’s been cooperative with law enforcement. Everyone involved has been cooperative,” Madle added. “So we’re just trying to piece it all together.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.