A UK woman has released shocking images of the horrific burns she suffered while celebrating her 28th birthday in a pub — when a portable heater exploded after a drunken member of her group reportedly poured ethanol into it.
April Charlesworth and her nurse cousin Ashleigh Charlesworth, 27, were both rushed to hospitals and placed on ventilators after the explosion Saturday night in the garden of The King’s Head in Great Cornard, Suffolk, South West News Service reported.
“A certain person, who was part of the group I was with, thought it was funny to keep filling the heater up with ethanol,” April said, the Sun reported.
“He was in a bit of a drunken state and we kept telling him not to do it,” she said. “There was another member of our group who was stopping him from doing it. But then they went off to the toilet for just a minute, and everything happened so quickly.”
April added: “All I remember was my face just being on fire.”
Ironically, what may have saved her life was actually alcohol.
“I had someone chuck a bottle of wine over me and then I was taken to the toilet and had water splashed all over me,” the mother of one told SWNS.
April was rushed to Bury St. Edmunds Hospital before being transferred to London’s Queen Victoria Hospital, where she said she has been suffering panic attacks from the brush with death.
“To begin with I didn’t remember anything, but I have been having flashbacks. I just remember me and Ashleigh being on fire,” said April, who woke up four days later with severe burns to her neck, hands and face.
She said it will be a “long journey” to recovery, the Sun reported, adding: “It’s my chest and my face which are the worst. My whole head is still bandaged up. Both my hands are still bandaged too, apart from a couple of fingers.
“I’ve had skin donor skin put on my face and my chest, which I’m told is working well,” she added.
“I haven’t spoken to the guy since who kept pouring ethanol into the heater. I haven’t even had a text or anything to apologize,” said April, a support worker for Your Life Care Solutions, a UK home health care provider. “He was able to walk out of hospital after just 36 hours, whereas here I still am 12 days later.
She told SWNS that she is in constant pain, adding that “some days are harder and some days are better than others.”
“I have been having panic attacks since it happened. I do not remember going to sleep and I was very confused when I woke up,” April said. “I have had my mum here with me every day. I wouldn’t have got through it without her.”
She said she has not seen her 7-year-old son, Franklin Avery, since the injury. “I do not want him to see me at the moment,” she said.
Ashleigh remains at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, where she spent two days on a ventilator and received skin grafts from her legs to treat the burns to her hands, SWNS reported.
Her dad, Paul Charlesworth, 55, said she’s been left in agony and that “doctors are trying their hardest not to do anything to her face as they hope the skin can heal itself.”
“She’s having to wear a special mask on her face still as these types of burns can carry on damaging skin for days,” he told the Sun.
“She is in extreme pain and needs to have her skin chemically cleaned,” he said. “What’s happened has only sunk in for Ashleigh over the last couple of days. It’s so unfortunate as she is such a hero who does so much for the NHS.”
His daughter has worked as a nurse throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has also administered vaccines, the Sun reported.
Witnesses reportedly said customers brought the gas-fueled space heater into the pub’s garden to keep warm before it exploded in a fireball.
The pub’s Sarah Bond said on the joint’s Facebook page: “The heating appliance was not one supplied by the pub, but was brought onto the premises without our knowledge.
“At the moment, we have three of our customers with serious injuries, potentially life changing,” she wrote.
“Our focus is on supporting the enquiry that is taking place while keeping them, and their families, at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Bond added.
A spokesman for Suffolk police told the Sun that no arrests have been made but that a man has been interviewed in connection with the incident.
“Enquiries are ongoing in regards to the circumstances,” he said.
An update on April’s GoFundMe page said she is “recovering well.”
“Day to day is extremely up and down with mixed emotions of anxiety, sadness and full of worry,” it said. “After a long hard emotional week of being bed bound, April managed to get out of bed and take a few steps around the hospital corridor and was able to feed herself breakfast for the first time this morning.”
Ashleigh’s GoFundMe page, meanwhile, said she “has a long road ahead of her in regards to her recovery both physically and mentally.”