Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Just a Couple of Seconds Longer ... and That Would Have Been That, Says Pub Landlord in Fireball Horror Just a Couple of Seconds Longer ... and That Would Have Been That, Says Pub Landlord in Fireball Horror

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Just a Couple of Seconds Longer ... and That Would Have Been That, Says Pub Landlord in Fireball Horror Just a Couple of Seconds Longer ... and That Would Have Been That, Says Pub Landlord in Fireball Horror

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Robson Redcar chief reporter dave.robson@trinitymirror.com

A PUB owner says he's lucky to be alive after a gas blast ripped the skin from his face and arms.

Ian Fawcett has spent three and a half weeks in hospital after gas from a boiler room leak ignited, causing horrific burns.

In a scene reminiscent of the film Backdraft, Ian, of the popular Water Wheel Inn and Carvery at Liverton Village, says he heard a "whoosh" and saw a blue flame roll towards him.

And having now been released from hospital, he wants to thank all the 999 and medical staff for their care and the pub staff for keeping the business going. He also wants to warn other people to check their boilers for problems.

The drama erupted at about 9.45pm on Monday, February 9, as, with the regular Monday quiz night under way, Ian went into the Water Wheel's boiler room to turn the heating off.

He said: "I saw a blue flicker, or a reflection of one. Then I heard a quiet 'whoosh' and saw this blue cloud coming over.

"I went to get out as quickly as I could, but it came over and engulfed me.

"I knew instantly my face was burning. I didn't even know I'd done my arms at that stage.

"It can only have taken a quarter of a second but if felt like 10 seconds or more - like it was in slow motion. I could see this blue cloud - not an orange flame - rolling across the ceiling.

"By opening the door, I've let the oxygen in, which is all it needed to erupt.

"If I'd missed the door handle, or if I'd have gone to turn the boiler off rather than trying to get out straight away, I wouldn't be here now. I'm told that a couple of seconds longer and that would have been it, because my throat would have burned."

In the passageway, Ian screamed to raise the alarm and began stripping off, fearing his clothes were alight. Helped by pub customers, he was rushed upstairs into a cold shower to try to soothe the burning.

After just eight minutes, a fire crew from the retained Loftus station arrived and, soon after, the ambulance, which took him to James Cook University Hospital. …

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