UHS student burned in fire mishap

By Thomas Wilson


   A Unaka High School student is recovering from burns he suffered during a mishap involving a grill outside the school on Friday afternoon.
   Sixteen-year-old Aaron Peters sustained first-, second- and third-degree burns to his face, neck and ears, according to his mother, Brenda Peters.
   "The plastic surgeon told me today it kills the nerve endings, so there's not much pain, so he's really doing good that way," Peters said on Monday.
   Unaka High School Principal John Fine said the incident occurred outside the school when two male students were assigned to put away a cooking grill.
   "Two boys had went to put a grill up," Fine told the Star on Monday. "They were assigned to put it back up and they were horseplaying and one got a little out of line."
   Fine said something caused a fire in the grill that resulted in flames that injured the student.
   "The flames blew up ... lunged out (at Peters) and burned him somewhat," he said. "It was not real serious."
   Two groups of students were working inside other classrooms when the incident occurred, he added.
   "The agriculture teacher had sent them to put the grill up, and he hadn't been more than five minutes away from them," he said.
   Brenda Peters said from what her son stated he had gone around the rear of the school building when "something just exploded".
   The blowup caught Peters' jacket on fire as well as his shirt, said Brenda Peters. The flare-up also singed his hair and eyebrows.
   Fine said the incident occurred shortly before the end of the school day on Friday. He added that no one at the school called 9-1-1 to report the incident, but that Brenda Peters had arrived and taken her son to the emergency room.
   Peters said she didn't believe the incident was intentional and did not want to criticize students or teachers, but felt better adult supervision should be administered when students were handling potentially dangerous substances.
   "You can't let kids be around stuff like that .... that stuff should be properly disposed of," she said.
   She added that her son was unsure what caused the chemical reaction in the grill that burned him. She said a possible cause was the ignition of a chemical -- possibly paint developer -- in the grill.
   A plastic surgeon told the Peters family that Aaron's injuries seemed to be healing and did not presently think skin grafts would be needed. She said doctors were concerned about the long-term effect of burns to Peter's ear. The burns required liberal applications of medication and bandages changed twice per day, she added.
   Peters said doctors prescribed antibiotics and pain medication for her son and instructed her to keep him out of school "one week and maybe longer."
   "They said the least amount of excitement was best, that it would take all of his energy to heal properly," she said.
   Mainly, Peters said she and her family were grateful Aaron wasn't injured more seriously or killed in the incident.
   "I don't want Aaron hurt by any means, but I'd druther it would have been him than someone else, but they need to see what the fire really can do and how fast it happened," said Peters.
   "I want better adult supervision ... they need to be more careful."