Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 18, 2013

BREAKING: Man suffers life-threatening injuries in Cherokee County 'burn barrel' explosion

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — A man believed to be in his 50s suffered extreme, life-threatening, injuries early Friday when a "burn barrel," to which he was apparently administering gasoline, exploded in his face.

"The skin was hanging off him, his hair was burned, and his clothes were scorched," Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White. "It was really bad."

The man, whose name was not immediately available, was injured about 8:30 a.m. Friday on property off U.S. Hwy 79 — west of Jacksonville in northwest Cherokee County, reports show.

The victim was initially treated by Jacksonville paramedics who gave him morphine for his pain. He was then taken by ambulance to the landing strip at ETMC-Jacksonville so he could be flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas due to the extreme nature of his injuries.

“There was nothing they could do for him there (at ETMC),” the fire chief said.

A spokeswoman for Parkland said without a name and age she could not immediately relate his condition to a reporter.

White said the man was with two others when the Jacksonville ambulance pulled up to treat him.

The fire chief said his people seldom encounter victims with burns this bad. He was unsure why the man was pouring gasoline in the burning barrel or exactly what happened prior to the small explosion.

"We don't know if he got gasoline on him or what," he said. "He couldn't speak English so we had to get an interpreter."

A “burn barrel,” incidentally, is typically used to incinerate unwanted elements such as branches, leaves, trash and financial documents.

According to information posted on www.burnbarrell.org, burn barrels are also believed to be one of the largest sources of airborne dioxin and furan emissions in the United States.