Family members have remained at the bedside of a Casper plumber who suffered serious burns when a flash fire ignited while he worked Friday at a Casper assisted-living center.
Justin Daniels, 27, has second- and third-degree burns on his arms, neck and face, said his sister-in-law, Linda Schulz, during a phone interview Monday. He is being treated at a Greeley, Colorado, burn center.
“He said he’s lucky to be here,” Schulz said. “He thought he was gone.”
Daniels’ wife, Jamie, and kids, Josh, 9, and Layne, 3, must scrub their hands and put on hospital gowns and gloves before they can see him.
“We’re just doing the family thing and taking turns,” Schulz said.
Daniels is now stable and remembers everything from the incident. He was in critical condition until Sunday night, when hospital staff were able to take him off a ventilator.
“That was a blessing in itself, because he did burn his windpipe,” Schulz said.
Daniels was treated at Wyoming Medical Center before being taken Friday night to the burn center at the North Colorado Medical Center, said Casper Fire Department Spokesman Jason Parks.
Schulz said Daniels was bleeding off a gas line at Meadow Wind assisted-living center when it blew, causing the plumber to be engulfed in flames. The hot water heater then blew and the water put out the flames, she said. Daniels has been a plumber for almost 10 years.
A Go Fund Me web page called "Justin's Road to Recovery" was created Saturday and had netted almost $4,000 as of Monday evening. A fund called “Justin’s Burn Fund” at Hilltop Bank will begin taking donations Tuesday.
SourceGas, which responded to the assisted living center on Friday, described the incident as a flash fire. The fire was caused by an accidental release of natural gas while work was being done in the maintenance area, according to the Casper Fire Department.
The fire forced residents to evacuate the east Casper facility. They returned the same evening.