FREEDOM, N.H. (AP) – Three young college friends were burned, two of them critically, when lantern fuel being used to re-ignite a dying New Year’s Eve fire exploded into flames, catching their clothing on fire, police said.

“The three girls were standing in a semi-circle around the fire,” said police Chief Josh Shackford. “They actually caught on fire.”

Shackford said a fellow reveler said he poured highly flammable lantern fuel on a log in a small grill to try to re-ignite it just before midnight Wednesday night at a camp on Lake Ossipee.

“The fire sounded like it was pretty much going out and they were trying to get it going again,” he said.

Two women were in critical condition Thursday evening at Maine Medical Center. A third was treated and released from Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro.

Shackford said the victims were among about 18 men and women in their early 20s who were friends from their college days at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The critically injured women are Holy Cross graduates from the Boston area, he said.

“There was melted clothing in the area,” Shackford said. “Two of the girls came into the house. They were still on fire and (were) put out in the house.”

He said he does not anticipate filing any charges.

“It’s just a terrible, terrible accident,” Shackford said.

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