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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 22 June 2021

MP warns people to not light bonfires with petrol after he suffers 30% burns in accident

Gordon Henderson said he could have died in the incident.

A BRITISH MP has encouraged people to take extra care when lighting bonfires after being badly burned.

Gordon Henderson, Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey in Kent, sustained burns on 30% of his body after a bonfire he lit exploded 10 days ago.

He has written a lengthy Facebook post in a bid to avoid something similar happening to other people.

13938086_1338992042794794_8496400237752873461_o Source: Facebook

“Let me begin by explaining that I regularly have bonfires in my garden, to such an extent that I constructed a purpose built, three sided enclosure, using thermo-blocks in order to improve safety and protect surrounding vegetation.

When setting a bonfire I often use a small amount of petrol to get started. I am always very careful when doing this and I ensure that the newspaper lighting fuse is nowhere near any part of the bonfire that has come in contact with petrol.

“However, on this occasion, I failed to take into account that my new bonfire enclosure would create a build-up of petrol fumes. That, my friends, was a problem I had not anticipated. When I lit the bonfire it was those fumes that exploded, not the petrol itself!

“Because the fire was contained on three sides the exploding fumes had nowhere to go, except forward – towards me. It was a scary moment!

My hair caught fire and I was badly burned on my face, back, sides, chest, both arms and right leg. In fact, my left leg was the only part of my body to escape (relatively) unscathed.

“Thankfully, there was a hosepipe close by (positioned for just such an eventuality) and my wife, Louise, had the good sense to immediately douse me with water for 10 minutes. If she had not taken such immediate action then I might well be dead, and that is not being over dramatic!

“Thereafter our fantastic NHS kicked in and I found myself in the capable hands of a succession of caring health professionals.”

‘You could end up dead’

He sent this warning to people:

“So, to anybody out there who is in the habit of using petrol to start a bonfire, or is tempted to do so in the future, I would urge you to resist such temptation.

Think of what happened to me and remember that the same thing could happen to you. Your skin could end up looking like mine did, or, worse, you could end up DEAD!

Henderson thanked his family, friends and colleagues who have sent him good wishes since the accident.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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