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Wrong accelerant used during botched pep-rally performance at Delray Beach school

No citations issued by OSHA after Ricky Charles suffered second-degree burns

Ricky Charles speaks to reporters at Delray Medical Center after suffering second-degree burns during a botched fire-breathing performance during a pep rally at Atlantic Community High School.
Ricky Charles speaks to reporters at Delray Medical Center after suffering second-degree burns during a botched fire-breathing performance during a pep rally at Atlantic Community High School.


DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – A man who caught fire during a botched performance at a South Florida high school pep rally earlier this year used the wrong type of accelerant, which caused the accident, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration report revealed.

Ricky Charles suffered second-degree burns to his face, arms and legs while performing a fire-breathing trick during a March 17 pep rally in the gymnasium at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach.

According to the OSHA report, Charles used the wrong accelerant, resulting in a backdraft to his face.

File: OSHA report for Inferno's Challenge incident at Atlantic Community High School

Charles, who owns Pembroke Pines-based Inferno's Challenge, told Local 10 News shortly after the accident that he used Coleman camper oil for the first time instead of lighter fluid. Charles said he didn't practice with it before the performance, so he wasn't prepared for the longer burn.

Palm Beach County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said fire inside school buildings is against the district's policy. The school district is still investigating the incident.

No citations or fines were issued by OSHA, but the federal agency asked Charles in an April 26 email how he will fix the mistake in the future.

"I will use the right equipment (and) accelerant necessary to complete the job in the future," Charles replied.


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