Woman severely burned by gasoline fueled brush fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Woman severely burned by gasoline fueled brush fire

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POLK COUNTY, TN (WRCB)-  A woman was severely burned when she used gasoline while burning brush left over from the storm.

The woman received second degree burns on her hands and legs. She is in the burn unit at Vanderbilt and is expected to recover.

But for neighbors who ran to her aid, say the scene is hard to forget.

"If you're burning something, definitely don't throw gas on it," says Captain Matt Price with West Polk Fire and Rescue.

A Georgia woman was visiting her sister in Old Fort Thursday when she threw some gasoline on a brush pile to help it burn.

"She decided it wasn't burning quite quick enough, or fast enough I guess," says Price.

"And then all of the sudden I heard an explosion," says Walter Barrett.

Across the street, Walter Barrett was working in his yard.

He felt the explosion and saw a white flash from the ball of flames.

"It's just like a bright like, you turned a big 150, 200 watt light bulb on. That's the way it lit up," says Barrett.

A neighbor next door was too rattled to go on camera but she tells Channel 3 the explosion was so loud and so powerful, it rocked and vibrated the front of her home.

That neighbor and Barrett immediately ran to see what happened.

"I didn't know how bad it was until I got there," says Barrett.

He could not believe what he saw.

"She was sitting in the yard and I could see the skin coming off of her hands."

She was screaming in pain.

"She was screaming, 'Oh God, please help me! Help me! Do whatever you can to help me'," says Barrett.

Barrett helped grab a garden hose and doused her with it.

About ten minutes later, paramedics arrived and she was air-lifted from a church parking lot just down the road.

"It was really scary because I could see the skin. She had at least second or third degree burns," says Barrett.

"It just takes one time," says Price.

Price knows all too well the dangers of fire. He was burned this week during a demonstration.

He says gasoline and brush fires are always a bad idea.

"It can vaporize and collect in low places and then when it flashes off, it may burn a 10, 12 foot circle around you, depending on how much you used," says Price.

"They're in our prayers. I tell ya, it was really pitiful," says Barrett.

For anyone burning storm debris or doing spring yard work, you need a burn permit until May 15, unless it has been lifted by your county.

You can get those from the Tennessee Division of Forestry at no cost.

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