Debby Rose still can't believe just how lucky her older brother, Danny McCulloch, was.
“We're all very, very thankful that he's as lucky as he is. He had some angels looking after him, that's for sure,” said Rose the day after McCulloch was airlifted to Halifax.
The Rawdon District Fire Department was paged out to an RV fire around 3 p.m. July 10.
“When we arrived on scene, the air ambulance was already on its way to take him to Halifax,” said Lee Roulston, the Rawdon District Fire Department's fire chief in a previous interview about the fire.
Rose said McCulloch had heart surgery two weeks prior to the fire, so he was flown to the QEII as an added precaution. He was released from hospital late that night.
Rose visited her brother at his residence July 11 and learned of McCulloch's quick thinking the night of the fire.
“Apparently he was trying to change out a gas fuel pump to an electric fuel pump on this motorhome. In doing so, he had to cut the fuel line,” said Rose.
“He wasn't aware that there was still fuel in the line when he went to start the vehicle with the electric fuel pump so of course it sparked and the fuel shot out of the line and right at him – and it was on fire when it did so. Everything went up very quickly.”
Rose said McCulloch bolted from the vehicle and dropped to the ground to extinguish the flames that were licking at his skin.
“It wasn't a soft landing in the raspberry bushes but he did manage to get the fire out,” said Rose, adding McCulloch not only has a badly burned right arm, but scratches, cuts and minor burns elsewhere on his body.
He then had enough wherewithal to hop in a nearby dump truck and move it so it wouldn't catch fire. That's when he noticed the fire in the motorhome had already begun to spread to the mobile home he used for storage.
“He ran to his house, still thinking in his head if he got the fire extinguisher he could put it out,” said Rose. But by the time he grabbed the fire extinguisher, he began to feel the intense heat from his burned arm and called 911.
When firefighters arrived on scene, both the RV and mobile home were engulfed in flames.
Mutual aid was requested, with Brooklyn, Gore and Kennetcook heading to the scene, plus other departments, like Mount Uniacke and Windsor, providing standby coverage.
“Manpower at the start was probably the biggest thing... other than that, everything came together fairly well. We kept it out of the woods,” said Roulston, who estimated they were on scene for about three hours.
Andy McDade, Brooklyn's fire chief, said they sent about 20 firefighters.
“At that time of day and in that area, it's really depleted for manpower... It helps that we are able to have the numbers to help out our neighbours,” he said.
Rose said her brother, who owns a salvage yard, buys old vehicles and fixes them up to resell them so it wasn't unusual for him to be working by himself when the fire occurred.
“He's very, very, very lucky. He is a very lucky man,” she said.
He's currently recuperating at home.
“He said in the hospital... that they just peeled the skin right off his arm because it was just hanging in gobs. They said they had to take that off because that itself could cause infection,” said Rose.
“He is in very good spirits. Of course he's on pain medication but even aside from that it's pretty hard to get him down. He's a fighter. He takes the lumps and gets back up and going again.”