Christy Butt received second and third degree burns to 39 per cent of her body when she set out to cook a few french fries for supper a couple of weeks ago.
She ended up with burns from her head to her feet.
“I melted my eyelashes and my eyebrows and some of my hair... I looked in the mirror and I watched the tip of my nose melt. That terrified me,” she said during a phone interview on May 11.
Butt’s ordeal started when she placed a couple of inches of oil in a pot on the stove. She peeled two potatoes and cut them into French fries. Turning away from the stove for a brief moment, she turned back to see the oil had ignited even before the potatoes were placed in the pot.
“The flames were about a foot above the pot. I started to panic. I knew that I should have put a lid on it or put baking soda on it. But, at that moment, I didn’t think about that. I just wanted the fire out of the house,” Butt said.
Butt took the pot in her hand and opened the door. Like a bad dream turning into a nightmare, the fire and oil spilled onto her chest, face, neck and other areas of her body.
“I don’t know how it happened. I just know that I caught on fire at that moment. The oil was burning through my shirt... every time I’d pat it to try to put it out it would just burn through my shirt again.”
As she pulled off her sweater, she said, her skin continued to burn.
In excruciating pain, and home alone at the time, Butt doused the flames on her face and neck and headed for the shower.
“The doctors told me, if I never went to the shower when I did, the oil would have continued to burn through my skin,” she said.
Butt contacted her mother, Gail, who came over immediately and called an ambulance.
She was taken to the Grand Bank Health Care Centre and then, by ambulance, to the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.
Butt still has her wounds dressed daily. While the burns may leave scars, she considers herself lucky to be alive.
According to information printed in a St. John’s Regional Fire Department Fire Prevention Book, cooking fires are the number one cause of residential fires and fire injuries in Canada.
Butt is telling her story so that others know just how dangerous using oil in a pot on the stove can be.
“Don’t do it,” she said. “It could cost you your life.” firstname.lastname@example.org