On a cold August night Andrea Pfeffermann-Hegmann went to light her wood fire heater the same we she had each winter night for the past 20 years.
She added methylated spirits to the wood as an accelerant when things went horribly wrong.
“There must’ve been a small flame or something still simmering in there because when I added the accelerant it just exploded,” Andrea said.
“It exploded into my face, my chest, my jumper, my jeans… one thing just spread to another.”
Andrea was airlifted to the Alfred where she spent over two weeks in ICU.
She was eventually allowed to return home, but contracted an infection and had to return to hospital.
“It was really hard on my psyche; the whole experience took a really big emotional toll.
“I was on lots of medication during my stay, but it was incredibly painful too, it’s amazing how quickly fire can destroy our skin.”
Now well on her way to recovery, Andrea hopes her story can serve as a warning to others to be vigilant around fire.
“I’ve lived on this property for over 20 years and I’ve always lit that heater the same way.
“People ask me if there was anyone around when it happened, but it wouldn’t have mattered, it blew up and did the damage so quickly, there’s nothing that anyone could have done.”
Andrea’s story is one of many burns specialists at the Alfred have seen in recent times
During the recent lockdown period (June-September), there has been a 15 per cent increase in burns related presentations.
High acuity presentations and ICU/theatre admissions from Emergency Department (ED) up, almost double the number from the same period last year.