At about midnight Saturday, Fabian Herevia slung a bag of trash into a bonfire blazing outside a friend’s house on Timber Leaf Drive in the Savannah community.
He might as well have tossed in a grenade.
Residents of nearby Savannah Creek RV Resort described the bang that followed as a “huge explosion.”
“It rocked the entire resort,” a caller told a 911 dispatcher.
The bonfire’s flames blasted into Herevia, who stood only a few feet from the blaze. The explosion knocked him to the ground. His clothes caught fire. The 26-year-old suffered second-degree burns across 45- to 50-percent of his body.
“He was just hanging out with friends,” Herevia’s wife, Chanda Herevia, 23, said Monday. “It was a freak accident.”
The blast’s trigger remains a mystery.
“We never did determine exactly what happened,” Savannah Fire Chief Darrell Woodard said Tuesday. “They had been working on motorcycles and cleaning the parts. It could have been a can of brake cleaner or something. Basically, it shredded his pants”
After the explosion, a second 911 caller told the dispatcher Herevia was on the ground, still conscious. “But he’s out of it,” she said. “We need an ambulance here like as soon as we can, please.”
Emergency responders transported Herevia by ambulance to Mission Hospital in Asheville. From there, he went to Augusta, Georgia for specialized treatment in a burn center.
Surgeons operated Monday on Herevia, his wife said, removing burned skin. Her husband was able to leave the burn center Tuesday, but for yet another medical assessment: The explosion ruptured both ear drums.
“I’m alright just really hurt and burned,” Fabian Herevia said in a Facebook post.
Herevia works as a painter’s assistant at Andy Shaw Ford in Sylva. His wife is employed at Harris Pulmonary and Sleep Center.
“He is going to be out of work for quite some time,” Chanda Herevia said in a separate Facebook post. “As many of you know, we have two children and with both of us out of work right now, we will need help with medical expenses and regular expenses as well.”
The couple’s children are ages 5 and 2. Donations can be made through a GoFundMe page set up in Fabian Herevia’s name.