Mum almost burnt alive as ‘entire body engulfed in flames’ in bonfire accident

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A mum has suffered horrific burns after her "entire body was engulfed in flames" while setting fire to an old wardrobe.

Louise Chadwick, 39, from Manchester, was refurbishing her daughter’s bedroom with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Jamie Lynch, 21, when they decided to burn the old wardrobe in the garden.

But when Louise poured petrol on the furniture, she didn't realise that Jamie had already got the fire going and the blaze suddenly exploded.

The fuel can Louise was holding immediately caught ablaze and she dropped it on the floor and slipped over, spilling petrol on herself.

In a split second, her entire lower body was engulfed in flames and the burning petrol that drenched her clothes was slowly starting to creep up her body.

Louise, who thought she was going to die, said: "At first I was in complete shock. Everything happened so fast from the moment I poured the petrol to the horror that came afterwards.

"My arms went up first, but things really got serious when I slipped and drenched myself in petrol fluid. That's when my leggings set alight and the flames started to rise up towards my torso.

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"I could feel the heat quickly nearing my face, but I couldn't get my trousers off because I was wearing my partner’s slippers. Jamie was trying to help me get them off but he was in complete shock at what was happening.

"It felt like I was burning for a lifetime, and I genuinely thought this is how my life is going to end."

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Her daughter, Georgia Mulvey, 19, who was upstairs at the time, came rushing down to the sound of Louise's screams, and filled up several jugs of water to frantically throw over her mother.

Eventually, Louise's clothes were wet enough to extinguish the flames and she was able to briefly escape the torture she had just endured.

However, the aftermath of the accident proved equally horrific as Louise realised the severity of her burns.

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The mum-of-three suffered third degree burns all over her lower body and arms leaving her in need of a skin graft.

Louise was airlifted to hospital and spent the next two weeks in intensive care.

It took over a year for her burns to heal, but the scars she has will stay with her forever – both physically and mentally.

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Shortly after the accident in 2017, Louise was diagnosed with PTSD which can be triggered by everyday activities including filling the car up with petrol.

She also has an extreme phobia of any kind of open flame – making fireworks and Bonfire Night a terrifying occasion.

"Every day that goes by I still think about what happened," Louise said.

"The scars on my body have healed as much as they ever will, but it's my mental health that's been damaged the most.

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"The first time I went to fill my car up since the accident I started screaming in the middle of the petrol station – in that moment I felt so much fear.

"I've had countless nightmares where I've woken up thinking I was burning and my kids have had to come in and calm me down.

"Over the years, I have been terrified of bonfire night and fireworks, but I have a grandson now, and I don't want to miss out on important parts of his childhood.

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"I want people to realise the dangers associated with bonfires and how quickly things can go wrong. I wouldn't wish what happened to me upon my worst enemy.”

In light of her accident, Louise has retrained as a hair and make-up artist, to help burn victims feel happy with their appearance.

  • Fire
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