Posted 06 January 2011 - 01:59 PM
The latest news report.-Steve
Published: 06:53 AM, Thu Jan 06, 2011
Videographer's condition remains critical after scuba tank blast
By James Halpin
Cindy Burnham was in her pajamas Monday night, leaning over the sink to brush her teeth, when she heard the garage door starting to raise up - her husband was home from a Carolina Hurricanes game.
The next thing she knew she had been thrown to the floor several feet back, with shards of glass from the shattered mirror in her face. Burnham, a photographer at The Fayetteville Observer, grabbed her dog and ran to the door to the garage, trying to find her husband, Rick Allen.
"The door was blown out," Burnham said. "I could see my husband on fire inside the garage."
Allen called for her to call 911 and get a fire extinguisher. She grabbed one a few feet away, then struggled to get the pin out and extinguish the flames burning on Allen's back.
"There was blood coming out of my face, and one eye I couldn't see out of because of all of the blood on my face," Burnham said.
She then called medics on a cell phone, gave them the address and helped guide them to the home on Partridge Court, she said.
Burnham was discharged from Cape Fear Valley Medical Center after receiving between 10 to 12 stitches to her face for her injuries. But Allen, who is also a photojournalist, remained in critical condition on Wednesday at UNC Hospitals' Jaycee Burn Center.
One of Allen's hands was severed in the blast, and his left arm was amputated to the elbow as a result, Burnham said. He has burns over 20 percent of his body - his legs, back and left side - and though he remained on a ventilator for smoke inhalation, he was alert, could see and squeeze with his right hand, she said.
"He's hanging in there. He's going to be OK," Burnham said. "It's going to be a long haul, but he's a real positive guy. I've been able to make some jokes, and I can tell when he squeezes my hand that he's laughing, so he's a strong dude."
What caused the explosion remains a mystery. Burnham said the couple, who own an underwater video and photography production business, keep a lot of dive equipment in the garage. The tank that burst contained compressed oxygen and was used in safety stops to help clear out residual nitrogen and prevent the bends, she said.
Allen told responders he bumped into the tank and knocked it over, causing the explosion that destroyed the wall separating the garage from the house. It wasn't clear what material the tank was made of.
"We're been diving for 25, 30 years, and we're real careful about all that stuff," Burnham said. "It's just a freak thing."
Authorities were continuing their investigation into the cause of the explosion. Meanwhile, the couple is focusing on moving forward, and Burnham said they have been overwhelmed by all the support they've gotten.
"I keep telling Rick about all the folks who are asking about him, and it brightens him," she said. "It makes him feel good. It's amazing how many people we know that are helping out."
I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.