We gathered tree limbs that had fallen in one of our pastures after a bad storm. We placed them in the center of our stone parking lot to avoid any chance of grass catching on fire. As you know, this is a large area. There was quite a bit of wood. My sister had just left to get us something for lunch and I had just been to the gas station to fill a 2 gallon container for our mower. It was still in the back of my truck. Susan--the girl who was working for me at the time was still cleaning in the pasture which was fairly close to the area of the fire we were trying to start--had she had been inside or on the other side of the barn, things would have turned out quite
The wood was only burning slightly on one end of the pile---nothing on the other. Regretfully, I poured about 1 cup of gasoline that
I had just bought into a small bucket and went over to the end that was not burning with the idea that as the embers progressed to that side, the wood would catch. There was no more than a cup in the bucket and I never had the chance to even pour it all on. I had just tipped the bucket and started. Susan had come over and I remember saying, "I'm just going to put on a little so it catches
later." I barely got those words out when a pop was heard and I was frantically using my hands to put out the fire running up my sleeves. It was surreal--its as if the fire on the far end darted down the pile, right into that bucket and up my arm. I could hear Susan yelling--its on your back -you're on fire, and telling me to lay down and roll. You know, we all know that rule, but when you
are burning and it happens so fast, I do remember starting to run. Trying to use my hands to put it out is what burnt the tips of my fingers.
At some point I did lay down, I did roll and as people usually do when they are in a crisis, asked God to help me. I remember throwing my glasses as I felt them hot on my face. (Singed my forehead, lashes and brows and took just a little front hair---so lucky) Susan took a full bucket of water from an alpaca pasture, poured it on me and helped get off my clothes. The adrenaline at that point was so high that I can't remember feeling pain except for my fingers.
Unfortunately I did not get my pants off fast enough and was Life flighted to Toledo with 2nd and 3rd degree leg and finger burns. I stayed there for almost two months, culminating in skin graph surgery. It has been an extremely painful and challenging experience that I would never wish on anyone.
Its amazing how your life goals change. I spent a long time just wanting to have my body work again after all the pain medication, walk to the mailbox without a walker, sleep on my side etc. But I just "graduated" from my burn clinic appointments two weeks ago and took off the pressure garments I've worn for a year. Feeling a bit naked and sore with no protection but God has been good. I am completely mobile, driving and working---way to much--again.
Lessons to be learned--There are so many. NEVER use gasoline on a fire. I could not understand how I caught on fire with such intensity with that little bit in that pail. I learned later that the real culprit was possibly the fact that I had just gone to get gas and when you do, whether you know it or not, your clothes and body carry the fumes from pumping the gas. It only took that spark to devour my jacket. They found shredded pieces of it all over the driveway.
NEVER burn alone--sounds silly but I spent two months seeing people come and go in the burn unit. My last room mate was a 70
year old lady who was simply burning leaves she had raked up. She went to rake a few that were away from the pile and as she did (naturally backing up as she raked) her bottom pant leg caught on fire. She was alone! Both her legs were badly burned in front from the ankle to her thigh. Luckily she was able to get her pants off.
HAVE WATER CLOSE BY---A hose with a nozzle and open spicket would be best. Thank the Lord for Susan's quick thinking to grab that bucket and throw it on me---but had it not been there, had it been empty or farther away--things would have been worse. It definitely saved my face and hair which had just started to burn.
ITS TRUE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ROLLING---if you can keep your wits about you and roll, it does put it out. Considering my entire jacket was on fire, rolling kept me from sustaining any burns on my torso. So glad I had on that coat.
Lessons to be learned? Life is short, God is good, people can have great hearts, you can survive things even when you think you can't, we often need to rethink our priorities, everyone should find some time and some way to give back.