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Location: UK

Date Of Injury: April 2015

A woman who was nearly killed when a garden patio heater exploded has spoken for the first time about the horrific accident.

Shirley Evans was given little chance of survival after suffering 67 per cent burns to her body and was placed in a drug induced coma to stop her body from shutting down.

Her brave son also suffered third degree burns after trying to help put the flames out as Shirley rolled on the floor on fire.

Her ex-partner has now set up a fundraising campaign to help Shirley and her family, who have been struggling as Shirley is no longer able to work because of her horrific injuries.

The 34 year old’s nightmare began when the heater was mistakenly filled with fuel before being turned off, causing a fireball explosion.

Shirley recalls how on April 10 last year, neighbors had gathered on her front driveway to catch up. It was a chilly evening so one neighbor had brought along a garden patio heater to keep them all warm whilst they chatted away.

Shirley says she remembers going into her living room, before returning outside when she was struck by an almighty inferno as the patio heater exploded and caught fire.

“There was just fire in front of me,” Shirley recalled. “I ran into the living room and was rolling on the floor, trying to put the flames out, but it just made it worse.

“My son, Vinnie, who was 13 at the time, was trying to help put it out. He was so calm, even though he had seen me covered in fire.

“He tried to save me and told me everything would be alright.

“I don’t think he realised his legs had been burnt at the time.

“It was horrible he was injured, but he was a hero.”

Vinnie suffered third degree burns to both his legs, from the ankle to the top of his legs … but Shirley suffered 67 per cent burns to her entire body.

They were both rushed to the St Andrews Centre, a specialist centre for burns at the specialised Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

The chance of survival is given with the percentage of burns combined with the age of the patient, with a score of more than 100 this usually leads to death. Shirley’s score was exactly 100. In other words she was going to die.

Shirley, now 34, was placed in an induced coma, where she stayed for four weeks and underwent three operations. She said the hospital had been amazing with both her and her son, who attends the children’s burns club, which allows him to join other burn victims on days out and trips.

Against all the odds, Shirley was allowed home after nine weeks of being in hospital.
However, she couldn’t face living in the same house in Basildon and has since moved to the Timberlog Lane area of the borough.

She said the burns are still uncomfortable and have caused tendon damage in her hands and shoulders and she has to take a number of tablets every day and apply a cream to the burns.

Shirley is also unable to do her own shopping as carrying bags is too painful. And she has only just started going out.

She added: “I’ve had children say they don’t want to come too close in case they catch it.

“It has taken me a long while to be able to even look in a mirror.”

As well as the physical impact of the fire, Shirley and her three children are also struggling financially. Her kind-hearted ex-partner Dave Tew, 39, is asking the community to come together to support the family in its time of need.

Dave, who dated Shirley for five years, said that she has no close family of her own. Her new house desperately needs work carried out on it as it was in a bad state of repair when she moved in, but she cannot afford to pay anyone to do the job.

“She hasn’t received any compensation as the fire was recorded as an accident,” he said.

“I was in France when I received a phone call and a picture of her in hospital. “We didn’t know if she was going to make it.

“It hasn’t been easy.

“She has been so brave but it has been awful.”

Shirley had to give up her job at BHS and now receives benefits as she can’t work.

He has set up a fundraising page and wants people to donate whatever they can to help Shirley pay for the repairs to the house, go on holiday and to make her day-to-day life easier.

“I have always been quite independent, but now it is hard to do most things,” Shirley, who has had no involvement in setting up the fundraising page, said.

“I would love to have the money to do the house up for the kids so they can have their friends over. “I would get Vinnie some West Ham tickets as he loves the team.

“It would be good if we could go on holiday too and just forget about everything and have some fun.

“I am not allowed out in the sun now, but we could go Centre Parcs or somewhere.

“It would be great for the children.”

If you can help Shirley please click HERE.