Woman escapes severe injury after grill explosion

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jeanie Duncan

May 28th began as an ordinary day for Indian Hut Road resident Jeanie Duncan.
However, before the day was over she would be in the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.
But, Duncan says it was a miracle day, not a day of tragedy.
Earlier in the day, Duncan was preparing supper for her husband, Rod, and their children —  13-year-old Dillon and 16-year-old Daniel. It was the first time she had used the family’s large propane grill.
“It’s one of those big, heavy duty ones. Not the ones you get at Walmart,” she said in an interview this week.
Duncan said her husband had to leave the house but showed her how to use the grill before he left. She said she successfully started the grill, as instructed, then went inside to start preparing other parts of the meal.
While she was inside the fire in the grill went out.
“I opened the grill door to re-light it but my lighter would not work. So, I squatted down to light it,” Duncan recalled.
She said she was eye level with the burners on the grill when her lighter did work. Because the door on the grill had been closed, when she lit the lighter, “flames shot out of the grill.”
In a split second the flames ignited Duncan’s clothing and the force of the blast threw her up against a bale of pine straw.
“It even blew the sun visor off of my head,” she said. “I remember thinking I was going to burn to death.”
Duncan’s younger son who was cutting grass ran to the aid of his mother. After extinguishing the flames, Dillon called 911.
An ambulance rushed Duncan to Georgetown Memorial Hospital where treatment for burns to her face and arms began.
“On the scale of one to ten, my pain level was at a 12,” Duncan recalled. “I was blistering from the chest up.”
Doctors had to cut the rings off her fingers due to the swelling.
The decision was made to send Duncan to Augusta where they specialize in burn victims.
It was during the four-hour ambulance trip Duncan said things began to change.
Her family and friends began using telephone, text messages, e-mails, and social media asking people to start praying.
Duncan said her mother, Judy Leigh, estimates more than 1,000 people were praying for her the night of the incident.
That included the congregation at Duncan’s home church, Maryville Pentecostal.
“From Georgetown to Augusta, the pain level dropped to zero and the blisters started disappearing,” Duncan said.
No surgery was required and Duncan was discharged from Augusta only two days after arriving.
On June 5, she met her doctor in Charleston for a follow-up.
“The doctor looked at me and said ‘wow, you are healed,’” Duncan excitedly said. “I say it was God that did it. When you look at the situation and how the fire hit me straight in the face, it had to be a miracle. I do not feel I would be doing as great as I am if God had not intervened.”
Duncan said she has not had to take any pain medication since leaving the hospital.
The only main evidence of the accident is a glove she wears because of some skin problem on her right arm.
“Even though my clothes were burning, my hair wasn’t even singed,” she said.
While she gives God the credit for her healing, Duncan said she will not tempt fate.
“I won’t be grilling ever ever again,” she said. “I will stick to the stove and microwave.”

By Scott Harper
sharper@gtowntimes.com

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