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Salamanders Young Burn Survivors > Your Own Stories > Jack Hunt's Story

Burn Survivor Jack Hunt's Story

My name is Jack, I'm 21 years old and I live in Bristol. In Febuary 2012 I was doing some cash-in-hand work in someone's garden and on this particular day I was planning on pruning some trees with a chainsaw, but first I was told to light the bonfire. Stupidly (hindsight's a wonderful thing), as it was wet, I decided to use a little petrol on the bonfire to get it started. After clumsily mixing some fuel and filling the chainsaw, spilling some on myself in the process, I went and splashed a few drops on the bonfire. It doesn't take much. I moved back and leaned forward with the lighter in my hand. I'd already done this several times this week without anything bad happening, so I wasn't really worried. When I lit it, the petrol exploded in my face and ignited my top. All I could see was fire, and I felt pain worse than anything I'd ever experienced. I was about 30 feet from the house so I ran towards it. At this point I was certain I was going to die, it was terrifying, and I was screaming for help without knowing it. I dived on the ground and tried to roll, but as I was told afterwards this doesn't work with petrol - the fumes just ignite again. I staggered up again and stumbled into the kitchen where the two guys I was working with were. The last I'd seen them they were on the other side of the house and if they hadn't been there - it was a big place - I don't want to think about it. They managed to slap the flames out and someone immediately got some wet towels for me to put on my face, chest and arm, which I kept on until I was driven to the hospital. It all happened about 4 miles away from Frenchay Burns Unit, the only burns unit in the South West - I began to see why people believe in God!

At the hospital I was given morphine which finally stopped the pain. At this point my face, chest and left arm were covered in blisters inches across, which hung off and made it hard to move. My skin was peeling off, too, and I was put into a private area of Accident and Emergency. I already felt very self-conscious, and didn't want anyone to see me. I had my operation about 7 hours after the accident. After being anesthetized by sticking a tube down my throat into my lung while I was still conscious (my face was too swollen to use a mask), my skin was debrided (the dead bits were shaved off) and something called biobrane was stuck on. I love biobrane. It's only a recent invention but before it was invented, I'm told, doctors couldn't do much except dress the wound and wait for it to heal, with constant pain and itching like crazy. Biobrane stops that and makes your body think the skin's still there which takes away most of the pain and increases healing time substantially. It peels off within two weeks with most of the skin healed underneath. This is what happened with me. I'm writing this exactly a month after the accident and all my dressings are off. I'm still doing physiotherapy and will have to wear pressure garments further down the line. I will have some permanent scars but thankfully not in prominent places.

While I was in hospital I wouldn't let anyone see me except my mum - I hated people staring at me. My face was scarred and swollen, but the nurses were obviously used to it and were fantastic about making me feel normal again.

This has been quite hard to write. I'm reminded of the accident several times a day. I tried to use a lighter a couple of days ago and couldn't make myself do it - my body was screaming at me that I'd burst into flames again when I clicked it. I can't go near fire, and sometimes I have flashbacks and just well up with emotion. So many things could have been just a tiny bit different, and I'd have been dead, or at least seriously maimed. I think I'm a different person now, with more of an appreciation for life. And that's a good thing.

I hope you can use this story - I'd like to think other people can read it and feel like they're not alone in how their accident has affected them, and it's helped me a lot to write it.

Jack Hunt - Burn Survivor

Copyright © Jack Hunt (March 2012) All Rights Reserved.