Volunteer firefighter injured in bonfire explosion

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Volunteer firefighter injured in bonfire explosion
Tamera Ray stands at the site of the bonfire explosion that injured her father. (KFDM Channel 6 Beaumont)

By Ann Rowland

James Ray, 52, a 10 year volunteer firefighter in Buna, Texas, was spending a chilly New Year’s Eve with family members all sitting around a bonfire that James was getting ready to light to ring in 2014. James poured diesel fuel onto the fire and it exploded, sending James to the hospital with burns over 35% of his body.

His daughter, Tamera, spoke with KFDM Channel 6, Beaumont, and recalled that terrifying event. “He went to pour the diesel out and when he did, it blew him back. It exploded and all I can remember is my father-in-law screaming ‘James’.”

She visited the site of the explosion and the folding chairs were still in place around the fire pit. The gas can that James used to pour the diesel onto the bonfire was still lying on the ground, damaged from the explosion. The work shirt his family took off his body was now nothing more than charred pieces of fabric.

Tamera recalls a “loud boom” and the explosion blew the bystanders back. It was her father, however, that took the direct hit from the explosion. “It had pushed him completely back and he was just laid out on the ground rolling around and trying to get the fire off.”

James was taken to the hospital where he is recovering with burns from his face to just above his knees. It is difficult for her family to watch their father in so much pain. “You know to see him in so much pain….it’s hard because all you can do is sit there and watch,” Tamera told KFDM.

Tamera wants this story to be a warning to others who think that accidents like this only happen to others. Despite the fact that her father was a volunteer firefighter with 10 years experience, it happened to her family.

“Don’t think, ‘oh it won’t happen to me,’ don’t be like I did, oh it’s not going to happen to me especially with my dad being a fireman. You have to be careful and protect your loved ones,” Tamera Ray said.

James Ray is expected to be in the hospital for at least another month. Several benefits are being held to help the family with Ray’s medical expenses. If you would like more information on James’ progress and fundraisers, please visit their Facebook page “Praying for James” at https://www.facebook.com/prayforjamesray


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