A 12-year-old Spartanburg preteen is recovering from burns on 40 percent of his body.

Fire officials tell 7News they believe the child was attempting to perform a dangerous challenge that’s picking up steam on social media. 

The Spartanburg Fire Marshal says the “rubbing alcohol challenge” is when someone puts rubbing alcohol on their body and sets themselves on fire. 


Brad Hall, Spartanburg Fire Marshal, tells 7News fire investigators were stumped by what they found at a home on La Salle Court, where they responded to a 12-year-old on fire Tuesday. 

Hall says the fire was quick and there was no damage to the structure, but investigators found some unusual items in the bathroom, where the fire originated. 

“There’s evidence of rubbing alcohol on the counter,” he said. “We found a lighter.” 

Hall says all signs lead him to believe the preteen was trying a new dangerous social media challenge, known as the “rubbing alcohol challenge”. 

“As I understand it’s where you put rubbing alcohol on your body and set it on fire. This is a very, very poor decision,” Hall told 7News. 

Rubbing alcohol is very flammable and when lit of fire can reach up to 1,000 degrees. Almost 7 times the temperate at which human skin burns. 

“Like 130 degrees, your skin begins to burn.” Hall said. 

The Spartanburg preteen’s burns cover nearly 40 percent of his body. 

“You’ll never be truly normal again, once you are burned like that,” said Hall. 

The preteen is currently being treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia. 

A spokesperson for the center tells 7News this is not the first case of this challenge they’ve treated. An alarming reality that Hall wants parents and kids to understand. 

“If it gets down into your muscle tissue and damage your muscles, you’re looking at years and years of surgeries.” Hall said. 

While the current condition of the child is unknown, neighbors tell 7News they are sending blessings his way. 

“I’ll be praying for him, because prayer never hurt anybody,” said neighbor Virginia.

Hall says people also use hand sanitizer, which is just as flammable and dangerous.